Bad service. Admit it, it's something we all hate. Whether it's waiting forever for a meal to arrive, receiving a completely different item to the one you ordered online, or just not being treated like a superstar by a business's employees.
Sometimes brands let their customers down. It happens from time to time, some of it preventable some of it unpreventable. But what is changing is how consumers react to poor service, and how they're becoming increasingly savvy via the power of social media
"People go on the internet for two reasons: to be entertained or fix a problem."? No idea who said or wrote that quote, but I thought it nicely sums up how consumers are moving away from traditional methods of contacting brands to complain about, or fix, the service they've received by voicing their grievance on social media channels, sometimes in front of thousands of potential customers.
So why are more people taking to social media to complain about bad service? Well, quite simply because it works, and can be rather lucrative for consumers too. By going straight to Twitter, consumers believe they can receive a faster and more effective response, as well as often being compensated by brands for their inconvenience.
The stats prove there has been a shift in behaviour too, with 75% of social media users saying they complain on social channels because traditional customer services have let them down already; 74% of customers believe that if they take to social media to criticise a brand, it can lead to better service and 33% of customers now prefer to take to social media to complain, rather than pick up the phone, completely bypassing traditional customer services.
And when customers do complain via social media, they often expect a fast response, especially if they see a company tweeting branded content. In fact 72% of customers who complain on Twitter expect a response within an hour. If companies don't respond within an hour 38% of people feel more negatively towards the brand, which isn't great for anyone.
If social complaints aren't dealt with efficiently and effectively, one small complaint could lose your brand a lot of business, with 92% of customers in the UK saying they have left a business because of poor customer service. Because of this growth of customer complaints on social channels, there is now a genuine need for real-time social community engagement to positively influence customers.
However, brands shouldn't look at complaints on social media as a negative, but rather an opportunity for them to show Twitter how awesome they are at solving their customer's problems and the kind of rock-star service that can turn around the most disgruntled customer from hating you to loving you in minutes.
In fact 71% of customers who have had a positive service experience on social media will recommend that business to friends and family. And when it works it can be spectacular *see Virgin Trains #Poogate story below - http://metro.co.uk/2015/01/06/twitter-saves-man-having-poo-on-virgin-trains-who-ran-out-of-loo-roll-5011355/
We expect more and more customers to take to social media to complain in 2015. Customer service is evolving to match the rapid growth and development of new communication media. Combine faster internet speeds with the continued growth of smartphones, and consumers have all the tools necessary to embarrass a brand online in front of their audience.
So it's more important than ever before for brands to have a strategy in place to effectively deal with social media complaints. Here are some of our top-tips:
- Define your company's rules of engagement - create an internal strategy and complaint process that will allow you to respond to customers the right way
- Create a dedicated customer services handle that will be able to grant customers direct access to help and keep your marketing efforts undiluted
- Be clear in your Twitter biography what days and times your account is monitored - this will inform customers when they can, and can't, expect a response
- Be fast and efficient - dedicate an internal time window to respond to complaints
- Take things offline ASAP - you don't want the whole of Twitter seeing angry customers
- Tailor each individual response to make the customer feel valued
- Reassure the customer you'll personally look into their issue
- Focus on positives - tell customers what you can do now to help, not what you can't do
- Commit to resolving the issue on social media
- Doubt the customer or question their query - this will only anger them more
- Give them a phone number or email address to call - they've probably tried that already
- Use a formulaic statement - keep it personal
- Share your problems - this will further customers' opinion that your organisation is useless and anger them more
- Make excuses
- Show frustration
- Blame the customer
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