Social media has paved the way for companies to get closer to their customers. And while this has proven to be advantageous, it can also be disastrous if you do not know how to properly deal with angry customers who vent their ire, frustration and disappointment in social media.
Word of mouth still is the best marketing method, and whereas before any bad feedback or complaint from your customers may have gone no further than a conversation between friends or through snail mail, nowadays every complaint, valid or not, is available for the world to see.
Angry customers can be a lot to deal with, more so when they are venting through social media so approach the matter carefully. How you handle angry customers in social media can make or break your brand. We have already explained how customer service and social media are almost synonymous with each other. Remember, angry customers have the potential to be your most loyal fans and brand advocates if treated rightly.
We have some tips on how you can deal with angry customers in social media. How you deal with angry customers doesn’t only involve retaining the business of the irate customer, but the business of other followers or fans who follow your social media channel as well.
Make sure you are monitoring ALL your social media channels.
You can’t respond to conversations you don’t see. When you set up an account in ANY social media channel, make sure you monitor it all the time.
The Social Media Examiner has these tips:
- Set up Google Alerts for your brand and industry keywords.
- Keep a close eye on your Facebook page.
- Listen on Twitter.
- Depending on the type of business you have, read reviews on sites such as Yelp, TripAdvisor and Zagat.
- Make a list of any forums or communities where your customers congregate and regularly check in on them.
Whether you’re paying attention or not, the conversations are happening. But a great listening program makes it easier for you to catch negative buzz and spot issues before they build momentum and become much harder to turn around.
Respond NO MATTER WHAT.
Acknowledging a complaint is the first step towards dealing (and appeasing) an angry customer. Compliments and complaints your followers post on your wall or tweet to you should be addressed. Inactivity, even if unintentional, does more harm than good – it would look like you are ignoring the customer. (This is why we listed the first tip above – you need to be tuned in to all your social media channels)
How do you respond?
An apology should be your first response, followed by empathy then a further probe, solution or an offer to the customer.
Customers are now demanding. When information is accessible to them 24/7, they feel they also have the right to be attended to 24/7.
Even if you don’t have any solution or concrete answer to the customer’s concern, letting them know that his complaint has reached you can control the possible spread of negative buzz. Remember, the longer an irate customer is ignored, the angrier he gets and the possibility of him ranting more on social media with more people picking up on the issue multiplies a hundred fold.
Respond with a personal touch.
Do you know what’s worse than ignoring upset customers? It is to respond with a canned corporate response. When you respond to a customer, make it short and simple. Use your name. Communicate in a friendly tone.
Here’s a classic example: “Hi, I’m Mary and I’m so sorry for the trouble….”
Keep the discussion out in the open.
A common strategy by most companies is that when there is a complaint, they strive to move the communication offline for resolution. This might work on certain issues but for ones that might serve as informational for the company’s other fans or followers, keeping the discussion in the open can prove to be beneficial.
How? Simple. The world can see your effort in fixing the problem.
When you deal with an angry customer right and in public, you earn word of mouth. You don’t get to earn that when you do it in private. For the same effort and cost, thousands more people see that you actually care about customers. Plus, you save on all the people who now don’t need to call in (or write a similarly angry post) to find an answer to the same question.
Involve them in the fix.
Oftentimes, when there is a complaint from a customer, it is also a form of feedback. You can see them as critics but it is better to see them as frustrated fans who want – and can – help. Ask them for ideas on how you can provide them better service!
And one more thing – involve your followers in the fix! What you say about yourself doesn’t compare to what others say about you. This is why word of mouth is the most effective form of advertising!
Here’s an idea: When a customer posts a problem you can ask your community to help him. “Hey guys! John is having trouble with [feature]. Can anyone share how they’re using it?”
Taking your brand to social media channels gives you a new medium to practice customer engagement. As with customer service, having a social media engagement policy will help whoever handles your social media accounts ensure that all issues are dealt with promptly and professionally.