Then it happens. A customer posts a complaint. It’s concise and polite. Frankly, you’re not sure whether he has a point or not. All you know is that he’s upset.
What do you do? Ignore the post? Look into the matter but don’t report your findings? Wait a week and, if he continues to post, apologize? Get back to him immediately, even though you’re not sure his claims are valid?
If you don’t know, then your business does not have a strategy for handling social media criticism. Sadly, you’re not alone.
A survey of 1,036 marketers, social media professionals, C-level executives and business owners/entrepreneurs discovered the following:
- 74% of brands receive customer complaints via social media 4.9% receive them “very often”
- 23.4% of brands not only don’t have a social media criticism strategy in place, but also have no plans to develop one
- 7.6% have procedures that are ineffective
- 21.4% rarely or never respond to customer complaints in social media
- 26.1% of brands reported their reputations got tarnished by negative social media posts; 15.2% lost customers; 11.4% lost revenue
These aren’t random findings. The recent RightNow Customer Experience Impact Report reveals:
- 89% of consumers began doing business with a competitor
- 50% of consumers give a brand only one week to respond
to a question before they stop doing business with them
- 80% of consumer complaints about a poor customer
experience are ignored.
The conclusion is clear. If you do not address your customers’ concerns online, they will take action. John Souza, the founder of Social Media Marketing University, puts it this way:
“So many brands are buying into the ‘friending equals spending’ mentality. They want the benefits of social media but aren’t truly aware of the investment of effort that’s required to see a return. As a result, this lack of effort rarely produces desired results and can lead to alienation of customers, fans, and followers. It can even escalate to a backlash of negativity.”
So what’s the answer? Answer your critics. And do it quickly. Try to reply within one hour. Customers typically want you to recognize their issue, so they know you‘re looking into it. And the results may surprise you. According to the RightNow report, when customers received a response, 46% were pleased. Better yet, 22% even posted a positive comment about the company or brand.
An NM Incite study says that 71% of those who experience positive customer service on social media are likely to recommend a brand based on their experience compared to 19% of users who don’t get a hear anything.
Apparently, you can’t make everyone happy on social media, and that’s okay. What’s important is, to be open when dealing with criticism. When you’re trying to help a user make sure you take the time to understand the issues. You give them the sign that you value their comments.
If you don’t have a social media complaint strategy in place, it’s time to create one. This ebook, How To Handle Social Media Criticism, can get you started. The sooner you get going, the sooner you can placate disgruntled customers – and win new ones in the process.