Customer Complaints and Social Media

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social platforms have provided an immense tool in the hands of the consumers. Suddenly the lone voice of the consumer, can get magnified if it resonates with a significant number of people – some from her own network, some who discover her woes and views through the sheer virality of the platform or the content.

While many brands have seen a lot of success with Facebook fan registrations, and started using it as a smart way to advertise. Many others have had a mixed response so far.

But for most brands, their biggest fear with social media, is the reputation loss due to consumer complaints. A research by A.T. Kearney’s on social media found that between 5% and 20% of all complaints to many organisations are made through social media. Not a channel to be ignored, if you want to keep your customers happy.

And its interesting how they have chosen to address this risksocialmedia-customer-service

They Just Ignore or Deny it

It has been documented through multiple surveys that more than 70% of consumer complaints on Facebook pages of brands are ignored. Add to this many more who just delete the customer queries or complaints. (7 out of 20 retailers did this in the Stella service sponsored exercise).

They respond one-on-one to the customer

Many companies and their customer-care teams, believe that the complaint related discussion and the resolution should be one-on-one either on phone or email. This allows the service team, sufficient elbow room to understand the issue, without getting distracted with the background noise, which may or may not be related to the specific query. Sound logic there.

But don’t forget to showcase the final resolution on the same platform. Why? because according to an American Express study , companies that resolve customer complaints via social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook see 21% more sales than companies that handle complaints on the telephone or in written form. Do see the attached infographic for more details.

They resolve it on the Platform itself

Many a brands have embraced Facebook/Twitter boldly and have started responding to customer queries directly on the platform. It is obvious, that this requires higher levels of empowerment for the individual staff members, a robust training on what messages to use (canned or otherwise) and access to customer/prospect data to swiftly resolve the query.

The successful ones have tried to follow these 3 simple rules:

  1. Don’t waste time in responding (less likely that the issue would snowball)
  2. Don’t shift blames (customers are mostly seeking a resolution and see all teams as the same brand)
  3. Don’t be defensive
Some leave it for the specialists

There are a few rapidly growing firms and agencies who have added social-media-customer-complaints-resolution as a key offering in their portfolio.


Enterprise solutions – designing around the customer

A recent experience with a telecom co. brought back memories from my Credit Card days.

A customer issue is raised and gets escalated to the corporate team. The corporate team looks at the data (across systems) and decides to waive certain charges or settle the “issue”. Customer gets a promise from the manager at the corporate team and believes that all is well. But rarely so – the outsourced collections team calls up the customer – as they are NOT on a real time connected status. Customer records are sent to these teams on a batch basis, without a clearly defined process for update/recall.So what really happens is that this collections team will follow up again and repeat the same story to the customer that they have been doing in the past. The customer in turn would believe that the company has lost it and would raise hell, along with shifting his relationship to another brand.

What is usually the problem is not the intention or the motivations of the service providers, but the technology/process which is implemented. It is rarely done with the customer at the centre- such instances are considered one-off and not coded for. A big mistake for the current Telecom biggies, with lakhs of customers, thousands would fall in these “one-off” processes every month. wake up and ensure the customer commitment is delivered across all teams (inhouse or outsourced) and for all scenarios.