We’re all aware that social media is commonly used for customer service. The average user has a pretty clear understanding on how things work and knows that the effect of posting a complaint to Facebook or Twitter is larger than just calling customer service. Why is this? Simple! When you post something – people will see it. By people, I don’t mean a brand representative, but rather the crowd (A.K.A- potential/existing clients). To be honest, I use social media as a customer service tool, as well, because I know I will receive a faster response and hopefully, a solution.

But what happens when you’re a brand and everything you say, post or tweet, can be used against you. When all your responses are recorded and can be found in the limitless and evolving Web? How should you, as a brand, manage the ‘dissatisfied customer’ crisis in the best way possible?

When it comes to social media, brands have the ability to turn a foe into a fan through effectively handling and resolving a complaint. This is a huge advantage as it helps the brands appearance, not only in the eyes of the customer they helped, but to the rest of the community following the case.

Another great bonus is when handling a complaint on your Facebook page or Twitter account you have ‘home court’ advantage. This allows you to have more control over the conversation and the outcomes, than you would on other platforms.

However, what brands have yet to understand is that when a complaint isn’t properly dealt with, it can easily transform into something more powerful than just a ‘dissatisfied customer.’  The whole brand name and appearance can be affected by this, which could result in additional angry customers, bad PR, loss of potential clients and eventually, financial loss.

Having a social presence definitely has its advantages, but with great power comes great responsibility. What we have seen time and time again is that what is posted on Facebook doesn’t always stay on Facebook …

Here are a few tips to help you manage the ‘dissatisfied customer’ situation.  Follow these simple rules and you’ll not only gain a satisfied customer, but a satisfied boss:

  • Respond in a timely manner:  The more you keep a customer waiting – the more frustration and resentment towards your brand builds. Even if you don’t have the requested information readily available or are unable to provide the answer right away, let the customer know that his complaint is being looked at by the proper channels and you will get back to him with a solution as soon as possible.
  • Always be patient, polite and kind:  It is important, when talking to a disgruntled customer to never come across as impatient or answer in a negative way.  A kind and empathetic response goes a long way and will also contribute to the way you’re community and potential clients perceive you.  One of the major considerations for a potential client is how CS oriented you are. Use this knowledge to leverage from and gain value in the eyes of the community.
  • Treat each complaint as if it’s the first one you’re handling:  If you’re an experienced community manager, you probably think you’ve seen it all before and this specific complaint is nothing new.  However, if you treat each complaint with the same dedication as your first one, the customer will feel like there’s someone on the other side of the keyboard who actually cares and is doing all that they can to resolve the situation. Also, avoid using templates.  Be personal.  Talk and treat each all users as individuals.
  • Be solution oriented:  Many brands spend more time trying to calm the customer down and less time trying to resolve the situation. The customer will calm down as soon as he sees the issue is being resolved. Obviously, kind and encouraging words help but ultimately this person is looking for a solution and you are here to provide that to them.  Always keep the customer updated and involved especially when things are taking longer than expected. This will help to show that they haven’t been forgotten.
  • If needed, redirect the conversation to a private forum: Whether on Facebook or Twitter – if you feel the conversation is revealing private information and is violating your company’s privacy policy, kindly ask the customer to continue the conversation through private Facebook messages or Twitter DM’s.  Explain that this is needed to protect him so as not to compromise privacy. The customer will appreciate this and your brand will be perceived as a company that puts their users’ privacy as top priority. When you do finally resolve the situation, go back to the public post and upload a short response along the lines of “We were happy to help you”, just so the followers can see the case has been closed.

At the end of the day, if the customer keeps complaining while you’re working on a solution, make sure you answer him publicly so that everyone sees you’re doing the best you can. Whatever happens – don’t EVER allow yourself to get in an argument! It doesn’t look good, it presents your brand in a negative light and even if you end up winning – from a customer service perspective, you’ll end up being the loser.

If you have more tips or would like to share how you resolved an interesting situation, please post it below!

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