Handling Customer Service On Social Media
Whether they pick up the phone and call, find you on the web, or walk right back into your business, unsatisfied customers will find you.
For centuries, customer service was always an issue of personally addressing the matter face-to-face or voice-to-voice. But now, social media creates the opportunity for dialogue over the web. And it couldn’t be easier for your customers to start that dialogue.
Believe it or not, customers are more likely to reach out and lodge a complaint through one of your social media pages than to actually pick up the phone and call to complain. It’s the same as firing off an angry email. It’s easy, you don’t have to be quick on your feet to write it, and you get to vent without dealing directly with an actual person. But this approach is problematic for both parties for several reasons.
We all already know the immediate drawbacks digital dialogue. Sincere statements can sound impersonal, and there’s no way to interpret someone’s actual tone. The main problem with a two-way conversation on social media is that it’s being executed from behind two screens.
As a business, social media is a wonderful resource for responding to feedback, publicly and privately. But the extent of that feedback should only be to let your people know you’re there and you’ve heard them. Feedback-loop-closure it’s an essential part of managing a Facebook or Twitter business page, but frankly, it shouldn’t be used for handling real issues of customer service. It’s a great place to start, though.
You can be a savvy business-owner with the most sincere intentions for cleaning up a mess. But if you’re not willing to offer some personal, honest, reparations to an unsatisfied customer, then you’re doing them a disservice. The point is to take the conversation off social media as quickly as possible. Give them your number and invite them to have a chat. Then, give them a free appetizer, offer them a store credit, or at least offer to make good with the things that went wrong (eat the cost). And regardless of how you right the wrong, make sure to invite them back. The only way to correct the damage that’s been done to your brand on a personal level is to give your customer another experience with the brand at the source. A bad customer service experience is a great opportunity to reconnect with someone and show them why they did business with you in the first place.
What about positive feedback?
Crisis management is one dimension of customer service, but what about all the satisfied customers who just want to let you know how great you are? 100% of the time, you absolutely must respond to positive feedback on your social media pages. Much like negative feedback, you have to let your people know that you’re there and you’ve heard them. Even if it’s just a one- or two-word comment on your page about how wonderful you are or how satisfied the customer is, you have to respond with something sincere and positive. If you don’t, it’s the same thing as telling someone they look nice and them turning around and walking away. It builds brand equity to engage with your audience on social media, especially if they start the conversation.
Hopefully the positive feedback on your social media pages greatly outweighs the negative. But when the negative comments pop up, it’s important to address them head-on and make direct contact with the unsatisfied user. Don’t delete the comment and sweep it under the rug, and don’t ignore it. As the steward of your own brand, you want a reputation for being transparent, proactive, and genuine. Interacting with your customers on social media is one way to foster that reputation.