Given the rise of the Internet, the customers of today no longer need to complain over the phone or face to face. Now, they have faster, easier and, often, more damaging ways of telling you how you have failed them.
Trump has shown us just how effective complaints on Twitter can be. It gets the attention of the masses. It’s easily available (President Trump is known to tweet at all hours). It’s personal. There’s fast turnaround (72 per cent of people who complain on Twitter expect a response within an hour).
Twitter may be the weapon of choice for your customer. But, you can use it to your advantage as well. Here’s how you can manage complaints on Twitter.
1. Be quick
The whole point of social media is so that you can be immediate. And there is no better time to be responsive than during times of crises. Nike, for example, has four million Twitter followers and they still manage to reply within minutes.
In order to respond quickly to complaints, you need to keep your ear on the ground. Monitor your Twitter account. There is no two ways about it. If you can’t dedicate a person, rotate people on your team to do it. And monitor it often. Remember, customers expect response to complaints within the hour.
Monitor Twitter buzz about yourself as well because your customer needn’t complain to you, he can complain about you on his own account. There are several social media tools that can help you not only monitor your start-up on Twitter but across all social media platforms as well. Sprout Social, conversocial, TweetDeck, SocialMention, Warble, Twilert, Mention – the list is pretty long and several of them are free. Do you homework and pick one that works best for you.
2. Be the solution
When Angie Konrad tweeted that the heating was switched off on her train, she didn’t expect the operators of the line to read her complaint. She certainly didn’t think they would alert the driver in time to switch the heating on so she could enjoy the rest of her journey.
People complain not just to express their dissatisfaction (those who want only that are called haters), they complain so you can make things right for them. So, be the solution. Act on it quickly. Resolve the matter. Then, go public with it.
3. Be sincere
If it’s truly your fault, not hedge and don’t hide. Just make it right.
When one of Starbucks’ 2.1 million followers on Twitter tweeted her disappointment that she didn’t receive the traditional e-coupon on her birthday, they were quick to make amends and promise to help her celebrate her birthday even if it was belated.
4. Be personal
People like dealing with people, not machines and certainly not faceless organisations. Being personal shows that you care and that can go a long way to defusing tension.
Reply with your name and Twitter handle to show them the people behind the brand. Be warm in your response and, very importantly, be authentic.
5. Be witty
When things go wrong, not taking yourself too seriously can make a tensed situation less so. It can even save the situation. The trick, though, is to poke fun at yourself, not your customers.
When one of its customers tweeted that he had cheated on Domino’s Pizza with Pizza Hut, Domino’s quipped: “Sounds like a momentary lapse. Please don’t do it again ;p".
6. Be strategic
In 2010, baby products specialist, Graco, had to recall 1.5 million strollers because of a defect. They turned to Twitter to answer concerns about the recall as well as to provide dates and times for the distribution of stroller repair kits.
Those not involved in the recall saw how Graco was quick to respond and thorough in their management of the situation. They tweeted their approval and what could have been a public relations disaster became a public relations exercise.
Remember, everything is public and every public encounter is an opportunity to market your brand.