In the good old days companies were able to trot out an infuriating standardised response to any complaint and the most public retort us consumers had was phoning in to whinge on local radio or writing a ‘disgusted of Hawkes Bay’ letter to the paper.  These days there is nowhere to hide once a disgruntled customer jumps on your Facebook page and tells everyone how your customer service team treated you like an idiot and your product has repeatedly failed.  One thing sure to get customer heckles up is light hearted banter on Facebook until the shit hits the fan then hiding behind ‘We take every measure possible to ensure our products reach you in premium condition but unfortunately we cannot take responsibility for blah blah blah,’ you know the responses I’m talking about. How you respond to complaints on social media is extremely important.  Here are a few do’s and don’ts.  They have been learnt the hard way.

  • It’s imperative to respond in the same tone as the brand voice.  An edgy brand selling skateboarding kit may write ‘hey bro, that sucks!’ as an opening liner but that wouldn’t work quite so well for ANZ.  Make sure each response to complaints is authentic.  Don’t copy and paste the same response to the last few complaints, keep it fresh.
  • The first thing you need do is offer thanks for the feedback.  Don’t go all gushy and apologise profusely before you know the background to the issue.  Ask them to contact you privately then get a number and take the issue offline, taking discussions out of public view.
  • If others start to jump on the bandwagon slagging you off for the same thing, post a message asking anyone else who has had similar issues to message details to you and saying you’ll be in contact.  Don’t get emotional.
  • You don’t need to reply to every single comment.  Sometimes people just want to use your page to have a good old rant about things and air their views.  You don’t need to respond to every single one, just let people have their say and let off steam.
  • If anyone abuses other customers on your page, feel free to delete or hide their comments.  Be aware that even though you may hide a comment, it may still be seen by that person’s friends and on their own feeds.

Fire fighting is a sweaty business.  Just remember to behave like a human, not an automaton and think about the way you’d like to be responded to if the boot was on the other foot.

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