Facing up to social media complaints

Customers are increasingly using social media to voice complaints. Social media provides your organisation with another avenue to receive customer feedback and information. 

As more and more customers embrace online technology, your organisation needs an integrated and coordinated approach to respond to complaints via social media.

These days, a customer who has a poor experience can easily make a complaint about it using a variety of social media channels. The channels include social networking sites, content communities such as YouTube, internet forums, blogs, product review sites, and complaint websites. Customers who want to publicly air their grievances are finding and creating new opportunities to do this on social media every day.

Using social media to make a complaint is attractive to many customers as it can be a fast and easy way to get attention and quickly spur the organisation into action. Customers don’t need to go through a lengthy complaints process; instead, they can tweet their complaints or immediately post it online and generate a sympathetic audience. Almost 20% of complaints are now made via social media, so organisations need structures and systems in place to respond to this developing trend.

On the positive side, complaints offer businesses an opportunity to showcase effective complaints handling and to transform the complainant AND onlookers into advocates of the business. The organisation’s response to a complaint made on social media might be publicised as widely as the complaint, and this means the organisation has a chance to influence thousands of customers who follow the online conversation.

Turning negatives into positives – strategies for dealing with social media complaints: It’s essential to be clear on who is responsible for social media complaints within the organisation, and ensure they have relevant training in complaints handling. Make sure It should be easy customers to find your complaints handling process, which makes them less likely to escalate the problem to social media channels – over which you have no control. Develop a policy for responding to social media complaints and integrate it across the organisation.

This could encompass key performance indicators (KPI’s) to track customer service and complaints resolution. Ensure communications are consistently recorded and documented. Resource your online customer services adequately so online enquiries and complaints receive a timely response. Cultivate a culture where it is acceptable to have open and transparent conversations with customers, potential customers, and the broader public. Where appropriate, be ready to discuss issues, acknowledge errors, and, if necessary, apologise.

Don’t ignore the complaint. It’s not going to go away – it will only get bigger. Don’t give the customer an opportunity to complain about your complaints process to add to their original complaint. Customers expect efficiency when you are handling their complaint, and immediate and direct action.

Most importantly, use the feedback you receive through social media channels to improve your products, services, systems and procedures. Encourage your organisation to view social media as an opportunity to listen to your customers.

Cullaborate delivers a one-day workshop “Strategies for Social Media Complaints” as an in house workshop on request. Please contact nicolecullen@cullaborate.com.au for further information.

About Cullaborate: We work with corporate clients to manage and prevent conflict and to deal with costly and damaging problems. We specialise in Root Cause Analysis. We use Root Cause thinking across everything we do to facilitate lasting change, and not just temporarily resolve surface level issues. We resolve immediate conflict, and also empower individuals, managers and teams to build internal competence. For more information visit www.cullaborate.com.au





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