A year ago I had an issue with Sears Home. I had just bought a new washer dryer and they were to deliver and install the units. The deliveryman showed up around 5pm, brought them into my home, dropped them in front of my bathroom door, left them there and fled the scene. His reason? He wasn’t being paid to uninstall and remove my old washer dryer. And it being 2013, I did the only thing I could think of; I tweeted about my experience. With red rage in my eyes I tweeted with angry abandon ending the tweet with #BoycottSears. By 8am the next morning Sears Home was at my door to finish the job. Had this happened to my mother she would have called a 1-800 number and sat on hold for who knows how long. A customer service rep would have talked her in circles, and the call would have ended with her scheduling a new appointment for some time a week later between 10am and 2pm.
Social media has presented GenY with a way to voice their frustrations with brands in a format that they are comfortable with, and more importantly, a format that gets immediate results. Many of us aren’t the 1-800 type. We are the generation that won’t send an overcooked steak back to the kitchen, but will tweet about it on the way home. We don’t want to sit on hold for an hour, but we do want brands to know how we feel when they’ve wronged us. The scary part is that there are many who now complain about every little thing, because filing a complaint is just so simple. As Max Valiquette states in this Strategy Online article “this otherwise welcome trend has also given birth to the whiniest, rudest, most annoying generation of consumers in the history of our economy.”
So what are brands and businesses to do? The answer isn’t as simple as the question. Using social media platforms to promote your business means you will also need to be prepared to offer customer service through that same channel. Users don’t want to be driven to the 1-800 line. If they did they would have called customer service in the first place. Below are 5 steps you can take to ensure you are offering a cohesive experience to all irate consumers whether on or offline.
- Build a FAQ for the day-to-day business, seasonal campaigns and programs.
There’s always a list of complaints that each brand can anticipate. “My KIT KAT is missing a wafer” or “my winter tires suck!”. These are all complaints that a brand should prepare multiple answers for and file away in an FAQ document. This allows the community manager to moderate from a place of knowledge and confidence without being repetitive. But it’s equally as important to build a similar document for any new campaign, contest or program. The day a campaign or contest launches is a day full of consumer questions for a moderator. Without an ironclad FAQ document, a Community Manager will be running around the office like an intern on their first day.
- Connect your creative agency to your customer service agency.
Assuming your page is managed by your creative agency, they won’t be equipped to offer the same level of support as the agency that manages your 1-800 line. Making the connection between these two parties ensures that costumers are receiving the same information, regardless of how they reach out to complain. Beyond the information, is tone, and tone is everything in these situations, whether on the phone or online. Tone online is hard to read, so the way in which a response is crafted is of upmost importance. By connecting these two teams, you are ensuring that the approved delivery of information is followed through both on and offline.
- Utilize the right technology to connect all the cooks in the kitchen.
Services like Sprinklr and Spredfast allow multiple parties to address comments and messages without stepping over each other. Representatives can flag and assign response duties based on the nature of the comment. By not having the right technology in place, you could have someone from the creative agency and someone from the customer service agency respond to the same comment. Services like the ones mentioned allow everyone to take ownership of communication within their own sectors.
- The Three I’s of social customer service.
“I’ve heard you. I’m sorry for your experience. I’m here to help you.” This is what a customer wants to hear when they are complaining on social. This is a channel designed to give them a voice, so acknowledging them is the first step in calming them. Apologizing for the experience let’s them know you sympathize, and providing a solution brings them back onto your side. If you don’t have a solution, ask them to private message you. Take the conversation to a holding area (inbox) while you look into a solution for them.
- Set response time guidelines.
Responding to issues within 30 minutes is considered good form in this space. If you don’t have a solution for the customer within that time frame, following the three I’s will buy you a few hours, or even a day. But setting a response time ensures that small issues don’t blow up into red alerts.
Seek out complaints about your brand. Customers who have issues won’t always tag you in their post, but as a brand you have an opportunity to shock and delight them by addressing their issue without them even having to attack. Do this, and you have a customer for life. This is easiest to do on open forums like Twitter and Instagram, but much more challenging on Facebook due to privacy settings.
Consumers are going to talk about your brand whether you are present or not. Sometimes it will be praise but sometimes they’ll be putting you on blast. It’s important to be present in the space so you can mediate those sensitive conversations, surprise and delight them with solutions, and most importantly, have systems in place that allow you to navigate the choppy waters.