Social Media is power – power in that it gives your brand a great way to engage with and influence your audience, and power in that it gives your customers a very public voice. That can be great – unless a customer is vocally displeased! Here are some tips to avoid a social media meltdown.
1) Be ready to apologise – You may be in the right, they may be in the wrong. However, the best initial course of action is to apologise, and offer to try and work out whatever their issue might be. You will generally find once you have demonstrated you understand and want to help, your customer with the issue will calm their initial sense of being wronged and be pleased you are taking steps to help.
If you can show empathy towards their situation all the better as whilst you are dealing with them, you are doing it in a public forum. Potential customers will take note of how you are dealing with this issue, and your actions can either persuade or dissuade them from doing business with you.
2) Don’t argue – There’s every chance they’re wrong. However, nothing good can come from publicly debating this with a customer. If you do argue, it is highly likely you will find the customer fights back. Whatever your approach, make sure you demonstrate that you understand they customer’s view and you want to help fix whatever their problem is.
3) Take it offline ASAP – In my experience of a social media manager, and a consumer, this garners the best results for both parties. Once you’ve had your initial interaction via social media, take your conversation to email. This way you can get the entire story, copy in relevant people in your organisation, and give your customer the assurance they are being taken care of by individual contacts within your company. This also gives you control over how and when to contact them.
4) Take steps to prevent the same issue happening again – If the customer had a real and valid problem, then that shows there is something going wrong internally in your company. Use this as a positive and figure out why the problem happened in the first place, then make sure the appropriate department or person responsible is well informed and aware of what went happened, and why. If a lesson can be learned and better service provided to the customer, that is a great internally demonstrable benefit of using social media for your brand. The fact that you’re on the front line dealing with it makes you an invaluable conduit between your customer and your company.