Managing  your Social media customer complaints

As part of a strategic analysis I recently completed for one of the major banks, I have some insights into the behavior of an unhappy customer.  I firmly believe my findings are not limited to a large financial institution, and that, regardless of your industry or size of your business, you can benefit by them.

Why is an online presence strategy important?

There is a continuous year on year rise of customer complaints on social media platforms, as customers and businesses adopt these technologies, their ease of use and reach becomes both a brand opportunity and reputation nightmare.  Online consumers will check social media sites for reviews or negative comments about a company before doing business with them.

Businesses who think that having no social media presence or take the approach of “see no evil, hear no evil” and avoid monitoring and managing their brands on social media are being worse affected as online users see no responses or rectification of the online complaints.

Online customers complain on social media as they know that their complaint is witnessed by all their followers, and if they can hashtag, the effect is so much greater. According to “The Social Habit” (Online researchers) , 32% of customers expect a response within 30 minutes and 42% expect a response within 60 minutes. These statistics have resulted in 73% of top performing companies investing in social media monitoring (Gleanster).

What should you do?

There is a high level of agreement on the basic principles that should form the foundations of companies’ complaints handling processes.  I have found these six steps to be the most beneficial:

  1. Remove all unnecessary access barriers, be available on all main social media channels (facebook pages, twitter presence etc), if your customer complains directly to you, it is better than them complaining to all their friends.
  2. Using monitoring tools that can assist you to identify complaints across all social media platforms even those you are not visible on.
  3. Treat customers fairly and with respect
  4. Have consistent processes and clear appropriate resolution and follow up timelines across all social media platforms. Keep the customer abreast of progress and follow up to check customer satisfaction with the way the complaint was processed and escalated
  5. Continuously develop and train your staff to ensure you have qualified, able staff managing your social media complaints platforms, as the wrong responses will cause more frustration and more complaints reaching even bigger numbers of people
  6. Constantly analyse your complaints data to address the root of complaints within your processes, structures or staff

Thinking that social media is not important (or that it will not affect your company and the way you do business) would be a mistake.


You do the Math!

One person typically has an average of 200 friends on social media and sometimes many more. One complaint instantly reaches at least their 200 friends.  Often these friends will like, comment and share the complaints.  This then influences their 200 friends, who sometimes shares or likes and reaches their 200 friends and so on.  Suddenly your company image, which you work so hard to protect, has been slandered amongst hundreds or thousands current and potential clients.

The best option is to ensure your company is working hard to not receive complaints, but if you do, manage them quickly and effectively.  This means having a dedicated focus on your online presence.  It means making the time to notice and respond quickly to anything that happens online.  In today’s market we simply cannot afford to let a single comment slip through our fingers.