In a perfect world, you would be able sell every one of your products to a loving crowd. They would be more than satisfied with your service, with your message board full will glowing reviews. Sadly though, this isn’t a perfect world, you cannot please everyone, and it’s inevitable that you will get complaints.
In the past, this would involve phoning your helpline. Usually, if your customer service was good enough, the issue would be solved in private. In the age of social media though, you may find yourself having to deal with angry customers very publically. What used to be a low key phone call, is now a highly visible rant on Facebook.
Having your dirty laundry aired like this may seem awkward. If you handle these complaints properly though, they can be more of an opportunity than a threat.
Do – Prepare for the worst
You are going to receive complaints sooner or later, so it’s best to have a procedure outlined. If you have a set policy for dealing with social media complaints, it reduces the potential for error.
If similar messages are received through both Twitter and Facebook, which receive two separate answers, it will give the impression of indecisiveness, or worse, dishonesty.
Don’t – Delete Comments
The worst thing you can do is delete complaints. This will not silence the commenter, they will just post again, more aggressively, and are more likely to share their grievances with friends. Furthermore, other people will have seen the comment before it was deleted, which will cause more damage than the comment itself.
In the age of social media, you cannot censor information, especially bad news, the more you try to hide something, the more publicity it receives. The publicity you get for hiding complaints will be far worse, and much more widespread than the actual complaints.
Do – Engage
As ridiculous as it sounds, you don’t want a comments page full of praise. To the viewers, this looks a bit suspicious and superficial. Seeing negative comments tells them that you are honest enough to leave them be.
Even better though, if you have responded to them properly and the commenter is satisfied, it shows that you are competent and understanding. Seeing that you are honest and offer good aftersales service will give them more confidence to buy your product, safe in the knowledge that if there’s a problem, it will be quickly solved.
Don’t – Feed The Trolls
You will have to sort the genuine complaints from the mindless provocation. Some people have nothing better to do than go around trolling social media pages; when you have customers to look after, you need to avoid wasting time on these people.
Initial posts from complainers may have bad language in them, as long as they have a genuine issue, this is to be accepted. Kindly ask them to stop then treat them like you would any other. If someone is using insulting or derogatory language and has no business on your page, then you can delete them, but only if you are 100% sure that they are timewasters.
Take screenshots for evidence before removing and blocking the offenders. Don’t get drawn into any childish behaviour.
Many people who use social media to publically complain about a product, become loyal customers after being treated fairly. Don’t see complaints as a problem, see them as an opportunity to demonstrate your excellent service.
Be humble, there are not many cheaper ways to show your business’s human side.
About the author
Joe Errington is a social media and marketing executive for MITIE, a strategic outsourcing company who look after the facilities management of companies in the UK and abroad.