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A Guide to Complaint Management on Social Media

What you do with a complaint sent via social media will determine if the customer does business with you again.

Posted by Katie Yahnke on May 28th, 2019

Is your business using social media tools to their full capability? Chances are, it is not. Many businesses today know that social media is there, but they are not sure how to leverage its power.

No matter how big or small your business is you should strive to incorporate social media into your customer service and complaints program. In today’s technology-driven society it is the only way to meet the needs of your customers and be where they are.

Plus, social media is quickly becoming one of the most effective means of getting attention. Consumers turn to Facebook and Twitter to air their views, both positive and negative. And since negative experiences garner so much more attention than positive ones, it’s important to keep a constant eye out for any complaints on social media.

Case management software helps companies track, manage, respond to and resolve customer complaints, including those received online. Learn more here.

Why Social Media?

Millions of people around the world are using social media. While many use it for personal entertainment, others use it for business and shopping. They may choose to follow a company, opting to receive their updates about sales and specials.

It’s one of the simplest forms of marketing around because people are opting to take part and yet there are two problems that many businesses are not getting when it comes to social media.

First, it is crucial they use it to reach their target audience and stay on their radar. The other is interacting with customers in order to keep them satisfied.

One of the most frustrating things for a customer is to get no response from a company when they have an issue with a service or complaint. Because we are technology-driven, many people will go to your social media site in order to send you a message about being unhappy. What you do with that message is going to determine if the customer does business with you again.


Effective vs Ineffective Social Media Complaint Management

Unfortunately, many businesses are not doing anything with that message. For example, one quick look at complaints posted to the Ford Motor Company Facebook page showed that very few customers received any replies. Only a few of the many customer concerns or complaints were addressed publicly by the company.

On the other end of the spectrum, a quick survey of Nike’s Twitter page and it is clear to see they are on top of it. Most of their tweets are either answering questions, responding to complaints or providing assistance in other ways.

Which scenario will leave a customer wanting to do business with the company again and which will leave them feeling jaded? It is crucial that social media complaints be addressed by the company, even if it is to say the person will be contacted privately.

Addressing Online Complaints

There are numerous lists explaining the best practices for handling complaints (including this one). But here are six rules or recommendations specifically regarding social media complaints.


1. Respond Quickly

The faster you respond to a public complaint, the more compassionate you look. Quick public responses to social media complaints also make the company look professional and “on-the-ball”.

Since Twitter moves swiftly, it’s recommended to respond to complaints within two hours. Facebook is a little slower, but you should address complaints here within 24 hours.

Customers don’t expect you to solve the issue on the first contact, but it’s critical that you engage with him or her and open the lines of communication publicly.


2. Respond Personally

When addressing consumer complaints on social media, it’s a good idea to use the customer’s name whenever possible. This kind of personal interaction is in the public eye and shows that the company cares about the problem being raised.

Thank the complainant for leaving his or her valuable feedback online and make it clear that the company values complaints and sees them as an opportunity to improve. The public appreciates this kind of transparency and sees it as a genuine effort to provide great customer service


3. Don’t Delete or Otherwise Try to Hide the Post

Deleting or ignoring a consumer complaint on social media can damage your company’s reputation in a very public way. Deleting a complaint gives the impression that you are hiding something. It’s the same thing as ignoring a customer in your establishment, or worse.

Even an irate consumer should be acknowledged. Sometimes engaging the person is enough to stop a social media rant that could harm you. Deleting the complaint will only make the customer angrier and more prone to ranting on social media.


4. Apologize to Them

Apologize simply and clearly, without making excuses. Save the excuses and explanations for your private conversation with the customer.

If there is a legitimate explanation for the problem, and it doesn’t sound like an excuse, furnish it only if you think that it will help others who are reading the complaint understand better. But often it’s just better to apologize and get straight to solving the customer’s problem.


5. Go Offline

After acknowledging a complaint and expressing a desire to fix it, it’s often best to get offline and communicate with the customer privately. Ask the customer if he or she would like to communicate by telephone, email or using the private message option on the social media platform.

Once the complaint is resolved, encourage the satisfied customer to go back to social media and post their satisfaction with the outcome of the complaint. That’s how you turn a social media negative into a positive experience for your company.


6. Monitor for Rogue Complaints

Tweets that don’t use the company’s handle pose significantly less risk to brand reputation, actively seeking out the rogue complaints is a mark of “how much they care about making things right for the customer,” said David Howard, former director of marketing at Bright Pattern Inc.

Free monitoring tools like Keyhole allow users to search for specific words mentioned on Twitter. Other programs, particularly Hootsuite, are capable of sending notifications when tweets use words commonly associated with a company’s brand.

Some experts recommend broadening searches to include common misspellings of the brand, as well as any known nicknames – but this can spiral out of control, ending up with “a massive library” of search terms that still is unable to keep up with the creativity of your customers’ complaints, says Toronto-based marketing specialist Lauren Craig.

Whose Role is This?

Companies have had to change the way they administer customer service to ensure that social media communication is addressed as quickly as possible, but this has often been hampered by lack of integration.

In many cases, social media responsibilities are pushed onto the marketing team rather than the customer service team. This leads to the growth information silos and answers that are inconsistent with those provided through other channels.

An integrated approach to social media in an organization could involve the implementation of case management software to handle complaints, whereby any complaint received via social media is funneled into the case management tool upon receipt.

This way customer complaints are managed, addressed and resolved according to a process, no matter how they are received. Complaints received by someone in marketing via social media will make their way immediately to someone in customer service or complaint resolution.

Either way, every company should have someone dedicated to their social media efforts. Their job should also be to take customer complaints and service issues and manage them appropriately.

What that is in your company may vary. Perhaps that person handles it all, or they funnel the message to the person who does. But it is important that the social media person takes the time to welcome customer feedback, addresses it within a timely manner, and does what they can to maintain a good relationship.

Those customers who feel the company cares about their issue will be likely to do business with them again. It’s just a matter of making sure that customer complaint handling becomes a priority when it comes to social media.

Check on Websites, Forms and Forums Too

Today there are many technology outlets that organizations can use to interact with their customer base. They may also get customer complaints delivered to them through these sources.

With the number of people using technology to report customer service complaints, it provides organizations with new opportunities to help manage them. Other than social media platforms, businesses may also receive complaints through:


Their Websites

Company websites play an important role in helping to manage customer complaints. Today they often contain contact forms, live chat options, email options, and more. Some may also include a blog, which provides an additional route for customers to interact with the organization.


Review Websites

There are many online review sites where consumers can post feedback about doing business with you. It is important to take the time to manage those, respond, and try to find a solution. Also, try to get more happy customers to leave reviews to help balance it out.


Complaint Management Software

Technology has provided organizations with customer complaint management software. The software has been designed with the purpose of helping companies to effectively and efficiently investigate and manage customer complaints.


Public Forums

Public forums. With many sites offering public forums where people can post their experiences it is important for organizations to monitor, investigate, and respond professionally.

Katie Yahnke
Katie Yahnke

Marketing Writer

Katie is a former marketing writer at i-Sight. She writes on topics that range from fraud, corporate security and workplace investigations to corporate culture, ethics and compliance.

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