Blog By: Matthew Taylor-Farrington | Managing Director
Not so long ago disgruntled customers would have needed to write a letter or call your business to make a compliant, it was a private matter dealt with between the company and the customer. However in this digital age, making a compliant can now be very public and consumers are not afraid to voice there concerns or opinions on the many social media platforms now available to them.
How a company handles those complaints will determine if a customer and there online audience will continue to shop with a business.
So here are our tips to handling disgruntled customers online.
When facing negative word of mouth, time is not on your side. The longer you wait to engage, the angrier and increasingly annoyed the customer will become, it then becomes more likely others will join in to spread the negative buzz.
Having a simple template response to post quickly and acknowledge the customers compliant while you investigate further will let the customer know they have been heard and have your attention, there is less incentive for them to continue spreading negative messaging online. Offering a real persons name and contact number in the response can also help to move the angry customer offline.
It is unlikely the customer will call, in this day and age the platform the customer engages with you from is the platform they wish to continue to engage. If the customer does call and take it offline, then refer to our last tip, it is important to go back to the original message and respond publicly so everyone can see the outcome. You didn't just do all that hard work to win the customer back, for the public to think you did nothing.
'Hi, my name is ___________ and I hear you. I am looking into it now and will be getting back to you shortly. If you have any questions, you can contact me directly on ________.'
DETERMINE IF ITS WORTH A RESPONSE
Not all negative comments are worth a response, and not all critics are worth trying to win over. Sometimes its just best to move on.
Trolls complain for the sheer pleasure of getting reaction, they don't have legitimate complaints, and it is unlikely you will win in these scenarios.
So ignore trolls and in some cases it may be necessary to block or delete, keep your head up and focus on the wrong you can right!
SPEAK LIKE A HUMAN
Ever got a standard corporate response to your complaint? How did it make you feel?
The only thing worse than ignoring an upset customer is sending a typical corporate response, if you thought they were mad before, wait until you see how they react to an excerpt of your terms and conditions.
Use your real name, show empathy,and communicate in a friendly tone. It is easy to yell and scream at a corporate entity, but when someone messages and says 'Hi, this is Matt and I'm so sorry for the trouble...' it changes the tone. The customer now knows he/she isn't yelling at a faceless company, he/she is yelling at Matt! Quickly the anger will fade and you may even get an apology.
MAKE IT RIGHT & APOLOGISE
This is your moment to shine...
We all make mistakes, but to actually fix or apologise for your mistake is how you really WIN over your critics.
Make a real apology, as human beings we have a basic instinct to protect ourselves which can make us defensive, even when we know we got it wrong. NEVER apologise and proceed to say 'But'.... You have just undone your apology, do not try to explain why the mistake happened, your customers don't really care, they just want it fixed.
Its simple say 'We apologise or We got it wrong' take responsibility and offer to make it right.
Your customers have more respect for your business and are likely to continue to use your business if they know you right your wrongs!
NEVER GET INTO A FIGHT ONLINE
As a business, anytime you win an argument online, YOU ARE LOOSING. All your customers and potential customers will see is a business that is aggressive. By NO means are we saying you cant defend your brand, just make sure your in the right mindset.
Firstly, DON'T get emotional, the customer is already high with emotion. If you are both emotional this is not going to end well for either of you.
Secondly, change your mindset from seeing the customer as 'just another complainer' and see them as someone doing you a favour. They're helping you by telling you how you got it wrong and how to be better. For every person who actually informs you of their experience, many others simply walk away and never return.
KEEP IT IN THE OPEN
I cannot stress this last point enough... I see so many companies say 'Private message us your best contact number and we will be in touch', this is a big FAIL. Nobody now sees that private email or hears that private phone call where the company gives a sincere apology and makes it right.
But when you do it online, in public, you earn positive word of mouth... people see that you are a company that actually cares about customers and that if you get it wrong, you WILL make it right.