“You can’t please all the people all the time,” so the saying goes. And it’s a saying that can certainly hold a lot of truth in the world of business. This isn’t an easy reality for brands to accept, of course; they’re hard-wired to keep customers happy always and all the time.
Not only is such a goal impossible, it can deprive brands of an important realization: Sometimes, our happiest – and most loyal – customers start out as our grumpiest ones.
Social platforms can turn everyone into a critic these days, and an unpleasant experience with your brand can quickly be shared with hundreds of people via their networks. Brands that can effectively recognize and handle unsatisfied customers online, however, can build valuable, long-lasting and long-reaching customer loyalty.
Here’s a general outline for effectively dealing with unsatisfied or unhappy customers on social media:
- Be aware. Keep a watchful eye (and ear) across your social presences, making sure you know whenever someone brings a potential issue to your attention. Push notifications are your friend.
- Acknowledge. You don’t have to solve the problem right then and there; indeed, the odds are very low that you could. Simply acknowledging the issue as quickly as possible lets the customer know you are listening and paying attention.
- Be human. Avoid jargon or corporate-speak. Be accessible and personable in your language.
- Move it offline. Provide as many options for direct contact with the customer as possible to move the conversation into a more private and intimate channel. This can include phone, email, chat or direct messaging through the social platform of choice.
- Ask for kudos. Assuming you find a mutually positive resolution, there’s nothing wrong with asking the customer to share the happy ending with his or her social networks. Do this only through the private communication channel you’ve already established, of course, and make it as easy as possible for the customer to share the story – provide social links (and perhaps provide common language he or she can edit) when you follow-up via email or direct message.
It’s no secret that brands’ most loyal customers start out unsatisfied; it’s through the process of resolving that dissatisfaction that we build that strong foundation of loyalty. The good news? There’s no real secret in how you change them from unsatisfied to satisfied, as the above outline shows.