Social media is tricky. It gives you the opportunity to connect to your customers and nurture relationships with them – and that’s a great thing for brands. But most of all, it gives your customers the power to influence brand behavior by sharing information about it. Which is a great thing too, of course, but makes the job of a social media manager all the more difficult, when the information is not exactly what they’ve been hoping for.
At GetResponse we’ve always treated communication in social media as an important part of our overall communications strategy. Over the years, we’ve had our ups and downs and a few major challenges – most of which, I have to say, we managed to turn around in our favor. Here are a few tips based on what we’ve learned.
Honesty is key
Although it’s sometimes tempting to hide some facts, in social media it’s almost always a better option to come clean. Say your service is down for some reason (like a DDoS attack we ourselves suffered from last year) and your team is working round the clock to bring it back. Your customers take it to social and start asking questions. They’re in the middle of an important campaign and really want to know when the service will be back online. And you don’t have a clue. So you keep posting a canned reply: “Sorry for the inconvenience, we’re working to fix this”. Let me tell you: that ain’t gonna work.
Sometimes, it’s best to just share what’s really happening. You might be surprised by how sympathetic and helpful your customers can prove to be once you give them the chance and share information that they really want to know. Sometimes it’s a bold move, especially if the truth is not exactly convenient for your brand, but let’s face it – people will immediately sense when you’re being dishonest. And they will appreciate knowing you treat them seriously. I know for a fact that our customers most often have.
Listen to what your customers say
So a customer complains on Facebook and you direct them to your Customer Service chat, but they keep posting in social media anyway. There’s no point in fighting the fact that for some of your customers, social media is a natural way of contacting you, even if you don’t really do customer support via Facebook or Twitter. If you’ve decided to be in social media, it’s your job to adjust your presence to the need of your audience – not the other way round.
So if you get complaints in social media, absolutely take them to customer support, but also, be there for the customer on Facebook or Twitter or wherever they choose to contact you. Who knows, maybe even Google + is their platform of choice?
DON’T be afraid of criticism
You can’t just expect praise. In fact, it’s probably safe to assume that the majority of comments you receive from people via social media will be from dissatisfied customers. And that’s okay. Treat it as an opportunity to turn a critic into a fan. If you handle a complaint right – especially in social media, where it does get a lot of publicity – you can indeed turn it into gold.
See the story of our customer who was dissatisfied with our referral program and decided to let us know before he published an article on LinkedIn, giving us the chance to respond. In the end, our CEO contacted him personally and here’s how it turned out. Sometimes it’s worth for the CEO to get involved, even if the matter is not really critical. Every customer appreciates knowing their feedback is important and reaches the most important people in the company.
… but do take a deep breath before you reply
Yes, it’s important to respond quickly in social media (by the way, do you know your average response time on Facebook or Twitter? Here’s an interesting study) But sometimes it’s worth waiting just another moment to think over the reply and maybe calm down a bit (after all, we’re only human). Sometimes the customers vent their anger (client service folks will know something about it) and your role is to calm things down and reply with an empathetic and factual reply (and that’s hard, I know). So if you feel upset by a post or a comment, just calm yourself down, and don’t write back just yet. And don’t worry, you’ll get better at it with time.
This will also give you the opportunity to evaluate the post and know a truly troubled customer from a troll. Yes, these will occasionally happen, too, and there’s no point in wasting your energy on a conversation that leads nowhere.
Doing it wrong? Do it right!
Remember – social media is a double-edged sword. When you decide to be openly present in it (by having e.g. a Facebook page or a Twitter account) be prepared that people will want to talk to you about all sorts of things, and not just wait for another great update you’ll decide to delight them with. The good news is, although it is a difficult job, managing comments in social media can be rewarding – seriously, hearing positive words from someone who criticized you just a few minutes before really makes you feel you’re doing the right job.
By the way, at GetResponse we’re looking for an awesome somebody who can help us talk to our customers in social media. Wanna try? Check out this page for details.
Do you have any interesting social media stories to tell? Let us know in the comments?
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Original Source: 4 Rules That Will Help You Turn Complaints Into Gold on Social Media