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10/23/12 Tuesday Training: How to Respond to Negative Feedback on Social Media Sites – Part 3

Our last two training sessions have been dedicated to this important practice. As more people continue to migrate their social interactions to sites like Facebook and Twitter, their customer service complaints will travel as well. Not only will an increasing amount of customers begin attempting to resolve their concerns via social media, they will also be proclaiming their service experiences through status updates, recommendations and reviews.

We’ve covered Part One – "Monitor your Brand" discussing the importance of paying attention to your feedback and using tools to see what people are saying about you.

In Part Two – "Listen" we highlighted the importance of actively working to understand your customer. We used the real life example of a company that didn’t take the time to really listen to a customer’s negative review and instead, ignorantly responded with irritation and a sharp tone – for all their would-be customers to see.

This week is our last installment in this series about how to respond to negative feedback on social media sites.

3. Respond Quickly

To be clear, by "quickly," we mean respond in timeliness, not haste – as we saw the negative outcomes of that in Part 2.

In Part One we saw a real-life example of a company that failed to respond quickly to negative feedback and things got out of control. The customer became increasingly frustrated and increasingly vocal. Others joined the conversation and by the time the company actually became involved, many potential customers had already been referred elsewhere. And to top it all off – this took place on the company’s own blog. It’s extremely important to respond quickly for reasons like this. Be involved in the conversation before it gets really ugly. And most importantly, make sure the customer feels "heard" by you and not ignored.

According to an infographic released by peopleclaim.com, "1 in 2 consumers who’ve tweeted a complaint toward a business expected either a response or at least the tweet to be read." And that number increases with age, they say – 65% of customers age 55 and older expecting the company would read the tweet.

Take a second to ask yourself, what is your target demographic? Do you deal with retirees? Then pay special attention because as we’ve just learned, that typical age group tends to be the most expectant of good social media customer service.

Or do your customers typically fall between the ages of 35-44? The stats for this age group came in at 54% of them expecting their tweet would be read. Are you delivering what your customers want from you?

According to the same infographic, "86% of tweet-complainers would have been happy to get a response back." Which goes back to customer service common sense – the customer needs to feel "heard." And people found that when customers do feel "heard" by receiving a response from the company, "3 out of 4 are somewhat or very satisfied."

Again, don’t forget the timeliness aspect we touched on. You can offer the greatest customer service with specific attention and a positive attitude, but none of it will matter 6 months later. The customer will have likely moved on, informed others of his negative experience, and resolved not to buy your product or service again. We suggest resolving social media customer concerns as soon as possible. Aim for at the longest – under a week. Keep in mind that the internet is instant. People can instantly buy things, instantly say things and instantly see things. Your customer will probably be hoping for instant (or timely) access to your company’s ear.

Try and take a little time, or designate someone at least once a week to run a quick check of your social media sites to make sure you’re not missing an important opportunity to offer your special brand of expert customer service to someone who needs it

Remember to see social media customer service as a great opportunity to show the world how well you treat your clients. If you try to put our three-part series into practice, you’ll have a head start in effectively and positively engaging your clients and potential clients. By monitoring your brand, you’ll be on top of what people are saying about you and will be able to join the conversation. By listening, you will ensure that your brand is represented accurately and intelligently, and you’ll gain a greater understanding of your customers and their thought processes and challenges in buying or using your product. And by responding quickly, your customers will feel "heard" and cared for.

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