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Effective customer service on social media

17th February 2016

Social media gives us many things – communication, knowledge, awareness and opportunity for business growth. But it is also an enormous online forum for feedback and reviews. And they aren’t always positive. A recent report stated that 46% of shoppers in the UK under 25 use social media to comment on their customer experience. Customer’s expectations have never been higher and therefore, if your service isn’t the best it can be then the world is going to know about it!

One way to get your business known is to be the very best at customer service. But unfortunately it isn’t always as good as it should be. Some businesses hide behind their online persona and aren’t always what they seem. How can you achieve a high level of service?

Here are a few statistics on how customer service can affect your business reputation…

  • Customers who read a positive review are 105% more likely to make a purchase and will spend 11% more
  • 87% of consumers are influenced by positive reviews
  • Consumers trust customer reviews 12 times more than manufacturers’ descriptions
  • 64% of people search for customer reviews before making a purchase
  • 83% of holiday shoppers are influenced by reviews

So it is clear that reviews can make an enormous impact on a customer’s decision to buy. But what about negative reviews? It is the one thing that businesses fear, getting unhappy customers ranting online about their service or product. It is all too easy to avoid or hide those comments, but is this the best thing to do? I have my very own tale to tell which might give you an idea of how not to approach your customer service on social media…

In November of last year, I saw a sponsored post on Facebook for printed sweatshirts. The imagery and styling was fantastic and the branding was really on trend. A promotional discount code was available and I decided that the sweatshirts would make a fantastic Christmas present for my daughter. I ordered a couple – treated myself to one too. A few weeks later I realised my order hadn’t arrived and I went and checked my account. No news. I then went to their social media pages to see if there was any communication on there that I could see. Sure enough, there was a tidal wave of unhappy customers and I began to worry about what would happen to my order.

This business did a few things fundamentally wrong as the complaints came in by the hundreds. They started deleting them. This is probably one of the worst things you can do as a business. As scary as it is to receive negative feedback or angry comments, the one thing you should never do is ignore or delete as this only adds fuel to the fire. According to a study by American Express, companies that respond to and resolve complaints via social media see 21% more sales than those that don’t. What you can do is actually turn around your reputation depending on how you handle that feedback.

       

Eventually, this said company took down their Facebook page, because they couldn’t handle the amount of negative feedback. They started deleting comments off their Instagram feed too. This obviously just made things so much worse as all those unhappy people (now, almost raging!) took to Twitter. And once you’ve tweeted, that tweet stays there. This is so damaging to the reputation of a business. Many of us tried to tell them and implored them to communicate with us but we got no response. We started becoming our own little community of worried customers - they had a helpline which wasn’t manned. Emails went unanswered and social media was ignored. Citizens Advice, Watchdog and Trading Standards were all tweeted. This went on for about 6 weeks until it was Christmas and many, many customers went without Christmas presents for their loved ones.

I did actually receive my order about a week before Christmas, 5 weeks after I ordered it with no apology. The quality of the items was low and it wasn’t as advertised. Desperately disappointing, but the hassle of returning them and the threat of not getting my money back made me decide to keep them. My daughter loved hers nonetheless! However, those customers who didn’t receive theirs were livid. The average Facebook or Twitter account has well over 100 followers, and so by complaining online, that business has lost a huge amount of potential customers.

The said company’s Facebook page is still not live. Their Instagram page hasn’t been updated and their Twitter feed has had a vague attempt at apology, but the memory of this incident will stay with those affected by it for a long time. These will not be returning customers and a lot of business will be lost in the future. But what could they have done?

Well, a simple apology could have really placated the whole situation. Responding to each and every negative tweet with a heartfelt ‘We are so very sorry, how can we make this right?’ would have gone a long way to restoring people’s faith. An explanation of why this situation had occurred and personal assurance that they would do everything they possibly could to get the order despatched in time for Christmas.

It is also important to respond to negative feedback as quick as you can. 72% of people who complain on Twitter expect a response within an hour – and this isn’t unattainable. With Twitter being mobile, you do have the opportunity to see a notification immediately and be able to respond to it. And if you don’t respond quickly, it is reported that 60% of respondents cited negative consequences to the brand.

 

So if you aren’t already convinced, here are our top reasons why you need to respond to negative reviews or feedback…

  1. By responding you can change the perception of the person leaving the review, and any future potential shoppers. As I mentioned earlier, you can really change people’s perceptions of you by how you respond. According to one report, of the customers that received a response after posting negative feedback, 33% turned around and posted a positive review and 34% deleted the original negative review.
  2. You show that you have great customer service by responding to a negative review. Your customer will believe that you care about their needs, and you are listening to what they have to say. This is a social world and people are vocal – you can make all the difference to what they say to their audience by giving that great customer service.
  3. You can build up the feedback you need to grow your business to your customers’ needs. We all believe that we know best as businesses, but it is the customer who will be buying from you. Their opinion is like gold dust. If they aren’t happy about a certain way you have behaved, ask them what you can do better to improve their experience next time. The information they can give you will really help you focus on what the customer really wants.
  4. You can start to build a relationship with your customer. You have responded in a positive way and so you have an opportunity to take that relationship further and that customer can potentially become an ambassador for your business.

And to end with, if you receive positive feedback (and it does happen!) then always remember to thank them. They have taken time out to praise your organisation, and I believe that warrants a response.

If you have any horrific customer service experiences, or even some fantastic ones, we’d love to hear them!

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