• Here's Why You Should Never Ignore Customer Complaints on Social Media

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    In the past two weeks, I booked a summer cottage for our family vacation and also bought some snazzy smartphone holders – all online. My final buying decision whether online or stores is almost always based on reviews – both good and bad. Five stars are great, but just as important are the one and two-star negative comments. I always want to mitigate my risk of buying by knowing how the business treats their unhappy customers. Do they repeatedly ignore them with their silence, have they reached out to rectify the issue or at least offered an explanation? I bet, as consumers, most of you do the same.
    As a business owner, it is imperative that you do not ignore complaints and not-so-flattering comments about your products and services on social media. If you do, because you think it’s too much work, time, effort, headache, or you dismiss them as unimportant, then you have just incurred a huge opportunity cost. You may be underestimating how many potential customers you’re inadvertently turning away by failing to respond to customers’ needs, especially those who may require a little more attention.
    Here’s a checklist to ensure your online customer service is great.
    Five things To Do:
    1. Respond to negative feedback right away - it’s a great way to build your brand and secure your sales. Even if you can’t fully resolve the issue, you can issue a general response to let your customer know you’re working on addressing the issue and to hang tight.
    2. Give your customers the benefit of the doubt – there is no reason not to. Scroungers will be exposed, don’t worry!
    3. Avoid dry, clinical response – hire the right voice. Show concern for the complaint, be friendly and sincere in wanting to make your customer happy again.
    4. Commit to and deliver on a timeline by which you will fix the complaint. Say so in your response online, it is public after all.
    5. Set up regular, twice a week (or more frequently if needed) time to respond to your social media conversations.
    Five Things to Keep Top of Mind:
    1. Social media today is your first marketing channel. It is powerful and it works. Buyers are more discerning and knowledge hungry than ever before.
    2. Millions are watching how you handle your customers. Your brand is at stake. Curate the conversation on your brand’s social channels by being an active part of it.
    3. How much you care about your customers is the big differentiator - widgets are pretty much the same high quality everywhere today. So, the important differentiator is how you take care of your customers.
    4. Online reviews carry enormous weight, such as Yelp, Amazon, Google and consumer reports. Take the time and trouble to make sure you respond to negative reviews in a positive, progressive way.
    5. Take away the pain and risk of buying decisions from your prospects. You can do this by sharing your knowledge and insights about your industry. As buyers, we all love to learn more about what and why we buy.
    A great story: At a camera Company X, a customer complained furiously about her camera still not working even after multiple repairs and now having to go on vacation without one. When the Vice President heard about this, he personally tracked down the customer and delivered her a new camera at the airport! Wow, now that’s customer service!


    About the Author
    Anu Parmar is President of SCA Strategies specializing in strategy and marketing.  She helps business, education and non-profits to drive innovation and growth.  She is past-president of the Strategic Leadership Forum and has written for the National Post and The Learning Partnership.  She believes marketing is two-pronged: strategy — which is ‘creating your story’ and communications which is ‘telling it so it sticks’.  
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