Social media cements its place as the place to complain

New figures released this week show up to 16 million Brits have used social media to complain about goods or services, receiving a whopping £140 million in refunds or gifts as compensation.

The new statistics, from GoCompare.com reveal that up to a third of adults have used their social media accounts, such as Facebook or Twitter, to air their grievances over poor service or unacceptable products.

As someone who has handled social media accounts for numerous brands over the years, it’s confirmation that customer service is playing an increasing role in social media. Long gone are the days when the only way to complain was to take a product back to a shop or send a letter in the post. Social media has brought everyday gripes into a very public domain and what was now a relatively private practice is in full view of the entire world.

While this may have some CEOs diving for a dark room with no internet connection, it actually presents an opportunity for brands to not only learn from their customers but show others just how good their customer service is by responding positively.

Top tips for dealing with social media complaints:

Think like a Scout and be prepared

In a customer complaint situation the speed at which you respond can have a big impact on the outcome. Brands that are seen to take complaints seriously and move swiftly on them often win back the hearts of even their harshest critics.

Being prepared allows you to respond much faster and you can do this by having a protocol in place of how you will deal with each complaint and a contact list of people you’re likely to need to contact to investigate.

At Lee Peck Media we also work with clients to identify the most likely complaints before we set up channels, allowing us to prepare for each scenario.

Respond quickly

The majority of complaints our consumer clients receive on social media are posted out of working hours. This means we need to constantly monitor the channels. Downloading apps such as Facebook Pages Manager and Hootsuite on your smartphone means you can receive push notifications the moment a comment is made.

Being seen to respond quickly can often help a complaint and with consumers now being able to see your average response time through the response time feature, it’s even more important.

Take the conversation offline

If you owned a shop and an angry customer stood at the till ranting and raving in front of other customers you’d take them aside to a quiet room to discuss their gripe. It’s exactly the same online. Offer your concern, sympathy or apologies (if appropriate) and assure the complainant that you’d like to look into the situation. Then provide them with an email address or phone number to discuss the matter further. On Facebook you can always ask them to direct message you their contact details if you’d prefer.

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