Sorry, can you say “Shit” in a respectable blog post? But, some businesses simply don’t GET how social media works and instead bury their heads in the sand ignoring customer complaints on social networks. (Besides, I’m quoting Gary in this video).
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — you CAN’T ignore social media. OK, maybe you don’t want to dedicate the time or resources to creating a social media campaign or maybe you’re afraid of social media — maybe you’re afraid someone will say something bad about you and don’t want to give them a platform for doing that.
Well, NEWS FLASH — they’re ALREADY complaining about you. You’re just NOT listening.
And, you’re PISSING OFF your customers by ignoring their complaints.
Social media: WOM on steroids
Before social media, businesses could just ignore customer complaints because, in the grand scheme of things, a few dissatisfied customers couldn’t impact your ROI — at least not so you’d notice. But, social networks changed all that. A single disgruntled customer complaining on Twitter, can have a serious impact on your bottom line when their complaint is amplified through 1000’s of Tweets and millions of followers. Ignore that, and you’re soon dead (as a company, not literally).
Businesses incorporated this policy of ignoring customers into their culture. They knew, if you bottled up a few media types by inviting them to your expensive boxes for sporting events and sent a few bottles of expensive scotch at Christmas, you were safe. Some of you might remember Pres. John Kennedy. His affair with Marilyn Monroe was a secret until long after his murder because the media and secret service kept it quiet and his presidency was safe from personal scandal. Now, compare that with Anthony’s Wiener (Anthony Weiner, former senator from NY). The man exercises poor judgement in sending images of his junk to a paramour and, because of social media, it’s the rare person who hasn’t seen them (BTW, he seem inordinately proud of something quite ordinary, but I digress). In this case, the media COULDN’T ignore the scandal without looking silly, since so many folks saw the images through a social connection. The same is true of Tiger Woods, who paid the ultimate penalty for an extra marital affair when folks began sharing images of his car wrapped around a tree and wanted to know why.
Social media success: handling complaints
Now, maybe these cases were inevitable in a world that’s increasingly connected, but YOUR firm doesn’t have to fall victim to this fate IF you handle complaints properly. Here are some tactics for handling complaints in social networks:
Don’t hide: don’t delete
The WORST thing you can do is delete complaints you see on your social platforms. In the early days of the internet, companies thought they could bottle up dissatisfaction by buying up domains like: “Microsoft sucks” and “I hate Apple”. Well, it didn’t work. And, social media is so omnipresent that you can’t just hide your dirty laundry away. Instead, face complaints head on, preferably quickly and openly.
If you notice a problem with your product or service, explain the problem, apologize, and offer a solution BEFORE folks start complaining about your brand. Hey, we all make mistakes. Own them, fix them, and move on. People respect that.
It’s really hard to hate a nice guy. So, get to know folks and build a community. People will overlook a lot if you are likable and present in your community, offer support, and donate to their charities.
We also know that lots of product “failures” are really human failures — the product worked just right, but the consumer didn’t use it right. Your community is a great help here. They can offer solutions and consumers don’t feel so dumb when it’s the community telling them they did it wrong.
Evangelists might also pop up in your community. These folks defend your brand when others attack you, which also carries more weight than when you try to defend yourself.
Effective complaint handling
The hallmark of effective complaint handling is to:
- respond quickly
- make the customer whole (as if the failure never occurred)
- validate the customer’s feeling
- be open and honest — a little mea culpa goes a long way
What do you think about the video?
Share your experiences with social media complaints. How have you handled them? What worked? What didn’t?
I’m always happy to hear from my guests.
And, if there’s anything I can do to help you, please contact me. Let me also offer some free resources you might find valuable. First, I have a FREE 66 page ebook on getting started on blogging and why you should. I also have the first 2 chapters of my new social media analytics book available FREE to folks willing to provide feedback.