How to Prevent and Address Customer Complaints on Social Media
by: Mohammad Jubran
Social media is a powerful life force, not only changing the culture of social interaction for entertainment purposes, but impacting the business arena as well. An organization’s success can soar with the right exposure on Twitter, LinkedIn and other public channels. However, it is also necessary to learn how to deal with negative online sentiment about your brand.
Gone are the days when criticism from a disgruntled customer can simply be routed to the complaint department and placed in the circular file. Tweets cannot be drowned out quite so easily. The good news is that customer service delivery is finally getting some well-deserved attention. The downside is the viral manner in which bad news spreads on social media when you do not know how to deal with negative online sentiment about your brand.
Ben Franklin’s quote, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”, rings true for customer satisfaction. Issues occur when management is driving external customer service without unifying internal processes. When technological systems do not talk to each other and customer service delivery is inconsistent, a disconnect results which ultimately reaches the consumer. In the traditional environment, being re-routed to an 800 number when issuing a complaint is bad enough, but having to repeat the story is intolerable. Consider how information disseminates on a social network and it is clear that negative feedback can increase exponentially.
Consumer comments, whether positive or negative, require an expedient response. Positive comments should be acknowledged in the public arena so that negative comments are not the only verbiage to surface. Respond publicly to negative feedback as well, but reserve the exchange of details for an offline discussion. For the framework of the conversation, SEA is an acronym which stands for shock, empathy and action. Express shock that this incident occurred, demonstrate understanding of their reaction, and outline the corrective measures to be taken. These measures should be definitive and followed through to closure.
Grievances are inevitable but, in the end, your brand will be assessed more by the organization’s reaction to the incident than the event itself. Allegiance to your brand will be earned if the company is viewed as part of the solution, rather the problem, and fans will come to your defense. At the very least, they may reserve judgment on future consumer complaints.