No matter the range of your business, your achievement will always lie in your capacity to deal with customers. In an age when consumers have so many different options they can turn to, one factor that can drastically set you apart is effective, trustworthy customer service. I’ve written about how to deal with customer complaints on the phone. But what about online complaints, which are public and can quickly, spiral out of control thanks to social media? If you can successfully handle a customer’s online complaints with hundreds, thousands, or even millions potentially watching, it isn’t just customer service, it’s also marketing.
The development of online communication challenges how we deal with customer complaints. Ten years ago, it could be fun to deal with customer complaints. The customer would call you on the telephone or insist to see you in person to complain. I enjoyed turning an angry stranger into a loyal customer, or even a friend, by giving him or her solutions. Back then, every customer had an identity. Today, the unreasonable customer is more anonymous—and often more unfriendly. The complainer might even prefer to vent anonymously, and anonymity allows someone to be more relaxing when posting negative comments.
FOLLOW THESE 5 TIPS ON HOW TO HANDLE CUSTOMER COMPLAINTS:
- Don’t delete disapproval
Always remember: do not delete! If you posted something divisive and are getting negative comments, do not delete the posts or the comments. Deleting does not make your customers feel like you are listening to them and will only make the problem worse. If the customer cared enough to leave the comment, they will leave another once you delete theirs.
The only exception to the rule is if a customer leaves an inappropriate comment (i.e. pornographic, spam, threatening, racist, etc.) Use your best judgment in these cases.
- Take action quickly
Consumers usually post negatively because they want a problem fixed. They probably tied to call and were put on hold, or knew no one would respond to them over the phone. They went to your social page for answers and support from others. Try to get to their comment before others do. Consumers expect their problem to be addressed quickly. Try to respond within the hour, or at least before 48 hours have passed. At the same time, make sure you don’t just respond with the first thing you think of; write out a draft, read out loud, and ask yourself, “If I were the complaining customer, would I feel better after reading this response?”
- If Necessary, express regret
If you should admit fault, do it right away. This shows you company cares about your customers and have ethics. But, if you are not at fault, it is important to find the middle ground when apologizing so your company can convey empathy while also standing by its standards.
- Handle it Offline
If you need to move the conversation online, do so. If it is a sensitive issue, the customer may want the special attention of a one –on- one conversation. This can be tricky , because if you attempt to move the conversation offline the customer may lash out that you do not want to address the problem in front of others. The goal of this is to show concern and extend contact information to the worried customer, so it will help the customer swiftly resolve their problem. Do not tell them to move the conversation somewhere else, just suggest and supply the means to do so.
- be careful of the trolls!
Let’s face it, internet trolls are the worst! They cannot be consoled nor reasoned with. To determine if you’re dealing with a troll or a customer, ask yourself the following questions:
- Is the comment applicable to your brand?
- Is the comment bringing up a concern?
- Is the comment a constructive complaint that can be solved?
If you don’t want your company tainted by negative publicity from customer complaints on social media and online forums, take the initiative – make sure you put the resources and processes in place to reduce the chances that your company will be caught out.
Social media involves a mix of marketing and public relations for your brand. You’ll need to be able to wear multiple hats to manage your brand if you choose to promote online. By using these tips, you can sufficiently handle negative commentary and show your customers amazing customer service.