Just a quick glance at social media and sites like Hellopeter will tell you that no matter how prominent and reputable a company may be, they still make mistakes.
In fact the bigger a company is the more likely it is that messages get lost in the pipeline, deliveries are late, invoices are muddled… the list goes on. At the end of the day there will be, angry, dissatisfied customers, but is the way you are handling them, and social media attention, destroying your brand?
Don’t let social media control you
The mistake most organisations make is to put themselves at the mercy of social media and inadvertently send out a message to their customers that “we’ll only listen if our reputation is at stake”.
How exactly are companies sending this message? Well, social media is often a last resort, and by ignoring emails, phone calls and any form of direct dialogue with the customer, companies often push their customers to drastic action.
Companies themselves reinforce the idea that social media is the most effective way to solve your queries by immediately responding and resolving angry tweets and facebook posts, by continuing to marginalise customers who contact them directly.
There are even tips online about how to complain about companies on twitter, but in most cases the customer would gladly contact the brand directly if they felt it would have any effect.
A key to customer experience successes is building a word of mouth reputation for direct first time fixes, rather than being the company who only responds when social media is involved.
Don’t just throw freebies at the problem
This is a cautionary tale, there are 100’s of articles, blogs and posts dedicated to getting free stuff from companies. People by nature are opportunistic, so you can’t blame them for trying.
Avoid being the company that throws free stuff at disgruntled customers on social media, because there is always a possibility they will accept the gifts but not be impressed enough by your brand to stay. Instead, be the company that genuinely listens, works hard to resolve, and gives out a freebie where it’s deserved and relevant.
Do more than talk
Complaints and customer dissatisfaction in general should be viewed as an opportunity instead of a gripe. An opportunity for what you may ask? Well, it’s an opportunity to build a good rapport, trust and a genuine relationship with your customer base.
There’s a few aspects of complaints resolution that really matter and that’s speed, personality and effectiveness. So locate the complaint and escalate it to the relevant people as quickly as you can (there are various CRM tools that can help you do this).
Next, be sure not to just replace the Dear (Name) with a person’s name on a standard email telling them that their complaint is being seen to – this is actually annoying because it’s just saying that your company has a procedure in place for this and they should get in line. Refer to their actual issue and who is handling it and be sure to stress that you will personally update them as soon as you have more information.
Finally, it’s important to actually listen and use the feedback they’ve given you. Let them know that you will be doing something about the issue and follow that up with actual information about how you’re doing it. This part doesn’t need to be instant but it does need to happen. Knowing that they have played a part in the actual policies of the company might mean the difference between remaining a loyal customer or simply moving over to a competitor.
The most important thing to remember is that bad experiences will happen, but the bigger picture of customer experience shouldn’t suffer for it. It’s all about dealing with issues both consistently and with a human touch, ensuring that relationships are built – and that your organisation grows and improves with every complaint (even the ones on social media sites).