When Customer Service Goes Social


Hand holding a Social Media 3d SphereStanding in a grocery store the other day, I watched as a customer grew progressively annoyed with the clerk. Eventually she whipped out her phone and began posting messages to her twitter account. Judging by her body language, and the looks she was giving the clerk as she waited for her issue to be resolved, I am pretty sure she wasn’t writing about how happy she was about her shopping experience.

Unfortunately, that response is becoming more and more common every day.  Why?  Because consumers have learned when they share their opinions on social media they get noticed.  They get sympathy from their friends, and if the company is paying attention, they may get a response significantly faster than calling the customer service line, or sending an email, or repeating themselves trying to get to an empowered representative.

So what do you do if you are on the receiving end of negative comments on social media?

Monitor social media – If someone posts a negative comment on your Facebook page or directed to you on Twitter they expect a response. If you aren’t paying attention, things can get out of control quickly as their friends, fans and followers jump into to the conversation before you have a chance to respond.

Acknowledge the comment- Sometimes simply saying “I am sorry you are not happy” can go a long way to diffusing a tense situation.  This will also signal to others in their social community that you are paying attention and interested in resolving the issue.

Take the conversation off line –  Although you should acknowledge the issue publicly, you need to solve it privately.  Invite the person who is unhappy to call, email, or send you a direct message with more details. Don’t debate what happened publicly.  It never ends well for the merchant.

Resolve the issue- Listen, respond, and take the appropriate steps based on what makes sense for your business. There is one more thing you need to do to close the loop; ask the customer to post another comment in social media so other potential customers can see that you care.

Finally, don’t wait for things to go wrong.  Getting and responding to feedback should be a big part of your customer service routine.  Let people know how to get in touch with you, and make it easy for them to use those channels. Respond quickly and efficiently.

It doesn’t always feel like it, but when someone takes the time to complain to you they are giving you a chance to make it right.  At least they care enough to tell you that you have made a mistake. In other instances people will simply talk about you. Or worst of all, they may never return.

Ask people to share their experiences, give you feedback and compliments.  Be actively engaged and people will respond. You will be rewarded with loyal customers.


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