Has Social Media become the new Customer Service Channel? Is your company prepared to handle a customer service problem in a public forum?
Social Media is brilliant. It has the ability to amplify your message so you can reach your customers in ways you never would have considered ten years ago. You can market, run contests, have sales offers and communicate directly with the people who buy from you.
But what happens when your customer turns the table around and they decide that if you want to use this channel to communicate a customer service problem, they want the right to communicate their experiences right back to you? Especially when they are upset about something.
This is a new format for Customer Service. One where your customer’s voice is more powerful than before, and depending on the size of their network, more influential than you could have ever imagined.
Recently a client of mine had a piece of negative feedback linked to their Facebook page with some false allegations being made and the person who posted this customer service problem received upwards of 60 comments.
The consensus in the comments went something like this:
“Start a new Facebook page.”
“Warn the public about this!”
“Tell them not to buy here!”
What do you do when your efforts at good customer service suddenly turn into a channel for those same customers to negatively broadcast false truths about your company or brand?
Or maybe they are not false. Maybe in some cases they are the truth.
How do you handle a customer service problem when given to your company in public?
Here is the advice I gave my client:
Don’t take it personally.
As much as you care about your business and reputation, as soon as you allow your emotions to get in the way of looking at the feedback objectively you run into the potential for a debate around who is right or wrong.
Make it about the process and not about the people.
Recently, I had a bad experience at a Retail Store. I had been given a coupon to save 10% off my purchase and I spent about $600. I went back in about 20 minutes after my initial purchase to buy one more item and the sales rep told me I could not use my coupon because I had not spent $100. When I explained I had just spent $600 she looked at me and said, “Sorry, has to be on the same invoice.”
In this case, the process did not empower the employee to make a $2.50 decision to keep their client happy. Companies need to look at the processes they have in place and ask themselves if the processes still make sense.
Take it offline.
Whenever possible, you want to be able to have a rational conversation privately with your client. My advice is to always respond to the comment and ask them to contact you via phone or email so you can better understand what happened and look for a way to solve their problem. Avoid getting tangled up in the conversation as much as possible. Friends will always side with their friends, whether the company is right or wrong. It’s human nature.
Anticipate problems and plan ahead.
You know your business. You already know what makes people unhappy. Your job is to plan objectively for all anticipated problems, while there is no emotion involved. Determine what your company policy and process will be in handling each situation if and when it comes up.
Start creating the new rulebook for managing customer service in a public forum. Keep in mind – this rulebook needs to be flexible and ever changing based on your how you apply solutions to serve your clients.
Use judgment and apologize when you should.
Sometimes companies hate to be wrong in public because they think the whole world is now judging them. The truth is, your customers are really just looking for you to be more human in how you interact with them online.
When you have a complaint, don’t avoid handling it. That makes it worse. And when your company does do something that is legitimately off side, apologize and make it right.
Your customers want to engage in conversation with you. If your company wants to use Social Media to market and connect with it’s target audience, it also has to be prepared to handle a customer service problem in this same venue. We all know it costs less to sell to the same customer so, keeping customers happy should be one of the measurable ROI’s you see by using Social Media.
If you want to learn more about how to use Facebook for your business as a customer service and sales tool, join me on May 24th in Ottawa for a full day of live training! Just Click Here for More Info.