Social media is an essential part of the customer engagement toolkit. You can reach a large number of people in a fraction of time and cost as compared to other mediums. It also allows you to manage your customers on social media in constructive and meaningful ways.
Managing Customers On Social Media
It is now well understood that social media a two way street. Unlike other marketing channels, social media is a many to many medium. Your customer, and more importantly, a group of customers, can also reach you. If you are good and treat them well, they treat you the same. If you are not so, there is no other medium which can have a devastating impact on your organization.
One of the biggest examples in recent times of the later is the case of USA’s United Airlines. They made a huge mistake of violently removing a passenger from an overbooked flight. In another era, they would have gone by with a slap on the wrist. But in the age of social media, it is much more.
The entire saga is chronicled here. But, the key thing to note here is that not only customers but non-customers also spread the word about how horrible the airlines is. This is a classic case of how not to manage customers on social media.
If your business has a digital footprint, you need to know how to handle a customer on social media. As United Airlines learned, you can either crash or soar elegantly.
No other organization has managed customer service on social media better than Tesla, all thanks to its founder, Elon Musk. For a few years now, he has taken to responding to customer complaints / feedback on Twitter himself.
Imagine a billionaire trying to solve massive problems AND responding to complaints directly! By doing so, he sends the message that he holds his customers (and even non-customers) in the highest regard. This sets an example for the rest of the organization and works wonders for its growth.
Manage Customers On Social Media
On the social media, your audience will consist of three broad segments
- The ones who want to engage
- The silent observers
- Those who want to complain
It is the third category that you need to learn to handle well.
To begin with, the most basic principle on social media is to look at a complaint as an opportunity to learn. It is an art as well as science. Whatever you do, remember that you are providing a service to your customers.
Whether you are a large or a small organization, you must have dedicated resources to address customer complaints. These resources must have an in-depth understanding of your customers in addition to knowing about your products or services. Equally importantly, you must ensure periodic awareness trainings were imparted to these resources.
You must put in place logical processes to handle customer complaints when they come in. Some examples of these include:
- Have defined standard operative procedures and reply scripts while replying to legitimate customers.
- Ensure that customer’s private information (financial information, health information, etc.) is not compromised. One way to do this is to take certain conversations offline.
- Customers should be provided resolution timelines. These must be based on the internally defined timelines
While hard document processes are important, what will help you win over your customers is how you treat them.
- The most important aspect in human interaction is empathy. In the faceless world of social media, the importance of empathy is magnified. When your customer comes to you, they believe they have a genuine problem. It is important to acknowledge that without being condescending or arrogant about it.
- You need to take ownership on the issue for your customers. Maintain chain of responses till the issue is resolved.
- Having periodic follow-ups to let them know that their issue is being taken care of is a good practice.
- As someone handling the complaints, do not take any comments on a personal note. Customers would be stressed and may say things which are unnecessary. Try to put yourself in the customer’s shoes and handle the matter in an amicable way.
The Dos & Don’ts of Managing Customer Complaints On Social Media
Even when you allocate resources and have established but evolving processes, there are certain best practices that you should follow if you have to handle customer complaints on social media
- Keep interacting with your customers. Do not ignore them.
- Do not mention anything to aggravate the customer
- Be authentic in what you post.
- Speak same language and syntax across your marketing channels
- Automate responses wherever applicable and think of robotics if warranted
- Do not automate all responses. Be judicious on what needs to be automated and what not.
- Do not delete negative comments
- Do not ignore comments
These are some of the tips that we recommend that are followed when handling customer complaints on social media. What are some ways you do that?