SCARED OF ONLINE COMPLAINTS?
Over the last three weeks, I have had several clients tell me they don’t like the idea of using social media to promote their business, or engage with their customers because they are scared someone will attack them online.
They explained they would rather deal with a customer’s issues in private an find a resolution with the customer, instead of it being splashed all over the internet, which, they believe, might portray them in a negative light before they even get a chance to address the issue.
I understand this can be a legitimate concern for many businesses, so I have written my top 5 tips to address customer issues on social media. However, before we get into it let me preface this by saying, these tips will only work if you are running a respectable business if you are as crooked as a plate of spaghetti this advice will not get you very far.
Without further ado, I bring you.
Top six actions to take when you receive a complaint on Social Media or
TFATTWYRACOSM for short.
1. DON’T TAKE IT PERSONALLY
This one is hard; someone has just said something negative about you, your business, or your staff. All you can think of doing is choke slamming them in to next, “bad service, I will show them bad service” you mutter to yourself as you boot up the PC, crack your fingers, and prepare to rain down cuss words strong enough to make a Samual L Jackson blush.
But hold up a sec, what if they aren’t a keyboard warrior, what if they have a legitimate concern and they want to bring it to your attention. Sure they could have used email, but the chances are they have tried that in the past and have gotten no response, so Facebook is the way to go. Or maybe to them, social media is the most effective way to communicate. Either way, you don’t win anything by attacking the customer.
Before you say it, yes I know there have been businesses who have become famous for calling people out when they complain. However, these businesses are few and far between, and for a lot of them, they have to keep trying to be antagonistic to stay relevant, sooner or later people get tired of those silly antics.
2. DON’T IGNORE THEM
Ok, you have meditated while drinking camomile tea in the lotus position, you are so zen people are holding a mirror to your mouth to see if you are breathing. You remember all that advice from your childhood that tells you to ignore people if they are mean to you. That is not applicable in this case; you need to acknowledge them, even if you think the complaint is dumber than a Jim Carey and Jeff Daniels movie. Ignoring them makes you look guilty, and gives them more power.
I am a massive advocate for customer service; I believe it is one of the easiest ways companies can gain loyal customers without spending a dime. So when I receive good or bad customer service, I will email or Facebook the company, if I don’t receive a reply it says to me, “we don’t care about you or our opinion, we just want your money.” After no response, I refuse to shop with that company again.
Is that too harsh? No, we are in an age where customer service is of paramount importance, if you can’t get that fundamental step right, you shouldn’t be in business.
3. GET THE FACTS
You are calmer than a Hindu cow, and you are ready to respond, but before you do, you need to check the facts. For all you know the customer could be telling fibs. Check with your staff, see if something happened that makes the complaint warranted if you have no team and it is just you try and remember the customer, was there anything that could have been misconstrued?
Gather as much info as you can, this is an important step; it will help you remain calm and clear when responding, knowing the facts mean you don’t have to rely on emotion.
This is it. You are calm, clear-headed, you have all the facts, now it is time to reply. “The first rule of Reply Club is?” “Don’t talk about Reply Club!” No wait, that’s not right, the first rule of reply club is, always remain polite. No matter what they say to you, about you, or about your staff, you do not waiver from being an unrelenting pillar of politeness.
In real life you might be punching holes in walls, throwing things, calling your cop buddies to see if you can find out where this jerk lives (don’t do that), but online you are so polite you make Mother Theresa look like a shock jock for a budget radio station.
Two reasons for the politeness, number one, remember people are reading what is happening if you remain calm and polite regardless of what the other person is saying, you will come off looking helpful and caring, they will come off looking ridiculous and unrealistic.
The second reason is, it is better for you, being polite to someone will help you to remain calm and not lose your cool, no matter what happens remind yourself to be polite and you will find the interaction going smoother than you thought.
5. DON’T ARGUE WITH THEM
Arguing with someone online is as pointless trying to drain the ocean with a straw, it will give you something to do, but at the end of the day it leaves a bad taste in your mouth, and doesn’t achieve anything. There are subtle ways to tell someone they are wrong without blatantly smacking them down. Start the conversation roughly the same way,
“Dear (customer), I am sorry to hear your experience with us was not a delightful one. As you know we pride ourselves on providing our customers with excellent service and quality (product, food etc.) Upon hearing about your issue, I immediately sought out the staff on duty to find out where we went wrong and how we can improve.”
That is the start put your spin on it, but follow the guideline of acknowledging the customer and their complaint, point out that customer service is something you strive for, and show them you set about trying to fix it.
If they have a legitimate complaint, it is up to you what you do about from here. My advice is put yourself in their shoes and think about what you would want. Maybe an apology is all you need to offer.
If you find it isn’t legitimate (i.e. that have never been to your establishment) you can follow the first part up with
“Unfortunately after talking with my staff, and checking our records, we can not find an instance where you have purchased from us. I apologise for the confusion, is it possible this was obtained under another name?”
This works because you are still assuming blame while calling them out they can’t be mad at you, you are only trying to help.
6. THE BIG ONE, FOLLOW UP
This is what sets you apart from the other businesses, most good places will do steps one to five, but doing step 6 makes you outstanding. A follow up can be anything from a Facebook message, phone call, or thank you card (if you have their address). A simple “I wanted to touch base again and thank you for your feedback. You helped us find an issue with how we were running and have since been able to find a solution, without your feedback we may not have discovered it. Once again thank you.
Again do this in your words, but acknowledge the fact they helped you, you will be amazed at how many customers would love to receive this.
Only do this if the customer was legit if they were trying to scam you then send them a flaming bag of dog poo (Don’t do that).
That concludes this week’s blog; I hope you have all had a great week.