Another channel to complain on?

If you’ve read my #BeMoreSocial ‘Social Rage’  article you’ll know that when customers ‘see red’ and that mist of rage descends they are more likely to post their dissatisfaction on their social channels than any other form of communication.  So why then would we wish to encourage such behaviour and give them a channel to vent on?  That very question was put to me recently with the exact phrase of ‘why should I give my customers another channel to complain on?’  Well the response to that question should really be met with another question of ‘just how much do you value your brand?’ 

You see marketing has evolved substantially in the last few years and is continually changing and at pace.  To match the marketing of any product customer service and customer experience has had to adapt to new channels and new response times.  Fundamentally most of the people who are involved in customer service in your business probably don’t report into marketing which makes designing a customer service strategy that can be responsive slightly more challenging because you have to ensure the actual service offered matches with the service proposition being promoted and not forgetting your customers expectation of that service.

Now we all know that social media offers customers most probably the fastest and most direct way to express themselves about their experience of  your product or service, both good and bad – but if you look at social as ‘just another complaint’ forum you’re missing a huge HUGE opportunity to show just how much your brand cares about its customers!   First of all most people turn to social media because of either a failure of service, or just because they are looking for a quick response to a question and maybe can’t reach your service in person, by email, phone or your website is difficult to navigate.  The immediate thought that ‘every social comment is a complaint’ is not always the right one.  Having said that, if it is a complaint surely it’s an opportunity for service improvement and let’s face it, we can’t all get it 100% right 100% of the time!

So let’s look at the positive ways you can now actively promote your brand and it’s service via social media.  Firstly once you receive any comment make sure that the first thing you do is actually respond! – and typically within about two hours.  You’d be amazed that amount of organisations that don’t respond to their social media comments from customers, not even just to like the positive ones.  Responding not only show’s your active on your social channels it also clearly demonstrates you are interested and if you are responding to a negative comment this can inspire confidence in others that should they find themselves in such a situation they are dealing with a company who cares and will do what is required to rectify the issue.  What’s more how lovely is it to turn an initial negative comment into a positive – great for brand engagement and overall customer satisfaction.

Your staff should be equipped with a social media strategy plan should things go wrong and that way you can be assured that you can handle the most challenging of questions put to you across any social channel.  Make sure too that your responses are in line with your company messages, the right tone of voice, signed off appropriately and address the issue actually presented by the customer.  

Do take a look at my ‘going back to twitter basics’ for more tips on how you should compose your tweet and these steps can help with posts on other social channels too.  

Also, do track all responses, not only is it good customer service practice it also helps you to see if there has been a pattern or similar experiences across multiple customers. You can measure how effective your social media is too, not only on your return on sales but also against customer experience and how likely it is that your particular customer will continue to do business with you after their experience. Remember a satisfied customer will probably tell a few people about their experience, a dissatisfied customer will tell everyone!

Lastly setting up a social media channel can also help you to listen to what your customers are saying about you, even if they aren’t directly talking to you.  Use the search facilities to track your business name and look across the social channels to see where your customers might be talking about you and more importantly what they might be saying.  You can bet your competitors are doing just that about your service so get ahead of the game and go searching.

Now if that isn’t enough reasons to set up another social media channel for customers to complain on…  spend some time today hanging out in the social space, it’s where your customers are and you’ll be amazed what you can find!

Article credits: Thanks to the participants of the recent #B2BLeaders forum hosted by @MarketingB2B for your inspiration for this article.

James is now Marketing and PR Manager for Countrywide's Estate and Asset Management and Property Auction divisions.

The #BeMoreSocial column was created for Flat Living and its goal is to drive more effective communication within the property management industry.

If you have a customer service experience using any form of marketing or social media that you’d like to share then tweet @JamesBiley and @FlatLivingLoves using the #BeMoreSocial.