A report released this month by Ofcom has found that one in four adults in the UK who use Twitter, use it for airing complaints and frustrations. With approximately 15 million Twitter users in the UK, it’s potentially a big problem for the businesses at the centre of these complaints.
Gone are the days where a strongly-worded letter or queuing on a phone-call were the only means to complain to a company; now, there’s a variety of public forums which allow consumers to instantly, publicly and directly vent their frustration about a company.
Most of the time, this is great for customers – the complaint goes directly to the company without any queuing or hassle, and companies will solve their issue promptly for fear of the issue escalating online and other potential customers seeing it.
But for companies; having their mistakes or negative reviews aired so publicly can be a PR disaster. Businesses need to know the best way to respond to mitigate the risk of a social media crisis and to maintain their online reputation with potential customers.
Responding on Twitter
Here are the best ways for a company to respond to complaints on Twitter:
- Consider your customer service function: If people are tweeting rather than using your direct complaints policy, then that’s more damaging to your company as it’s in the public domain. Make it easy and convenient for them to contact you directly, and more people will use this procedure. Make sure it’s clearly pointed out on your website and not a long-winded process with the customer services team. Look to streamline this and make it as easy as possible for customers to get in touch. Otherwise, they’ll look to use other outlets like forums and social media which can be more damaging.
- RESPOND: Whatever you do, don’t ever ignore a complaint. Even if you don’t have the answer to the complaint just yet, at least let the customer know you’ve listened to them and you’re dealing with it. Say that you’re internally investigating the issue, then get back to them with an adequate response as soon as possible. It’s best to deal with the customer directly and privately once you’ve publicly responded, so take their details and aim to resolve it swiftly with them.
- Integrate the customer service team with Twitter: Your company needs to be consistent with its response strategy and dealing with complaints. Ensure everyone is on the same page and is aware of any prior dealings with the customer; there’s nothing more frustrating than hearing differing things and having to repeat yourself to various members of staff. Make sure that both the online and offline customer service procedure is consistent.
Social media can be a useful tool for businesses, allowing them to give a personal touch to people and respond quickly and effectively. A real-time response often leaves the customer happier, building trust between the company and its customers.
Having a positive perception by customers online is essential to the success of most businesses. Most people Google a company before using its product or services, so your online reputation is of growing importance. If you’d like further advice on how to ensure that your online assets are optimised for desktop and mobile devices, get in touch with me in complete confidence at firstname.lastname@example.org or on tel: +44 (0) 203 542 8689.