How to Handle Customer Service Issues via Social Media

How do you respond to customers that complain via social media? No matter the type of business or product that you sell, at some point you are likely to experience an unhappy customer. Today customers are not shy to express their concerns or negative experiences via social media sites. When handled correctly, customer service issues via social media can actually benefit your business and set you apart from your competition.

What is the best way to handle complaints and unhappy customers on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter? Below is an example of an issue that a customer of The Roasting Company, a Social Ape client, had earlier this year.

A loyal customer of The Roasting Company placed a to-go order and asked for an extra side of queso with her meal. Upon returning to her house later that night, she noticed that she did not have her extra queso and was quite upset. The customer sent a public tweet mentioning The Roasting Company along with an image of her meal.

Screen Shot 2014-07-08 at 2.34.17 PM
Screen Shot 2014-07-08 at 2.34.17 PM

So how should you respond to a situation like this?

1. Take if offline. The first and the most important step is to take the conversation offline. Publicly respond to the customer asking them to privately message you their email or phone number so that you can get in touch with them directly. This way you won’t have their complaints and your responses online for all of your followers and fans to read. In this situation, we sent a tweet to the customer asking her to privately message us with her contact information.

2. Remain professional.  NEVER argue over the internet. Not only does it look extremely bad for your business, but it is also very unprofessional. There is a saying the customer is always right, and most of the time this is true.

3. Respond in a timely manner. Respond to any complaint or concern as soon as you can. Responding to a complaint within 2 hours after the customers comment has been posted is an ideal time to ensure you will get a response, and hopefully a positive one. Not only will the customer be impressed that you responded, but they will most likely thank you for wanting to address the situation so quickly. In this situation, we responded to the tweet in 17 minutes to ensure the customer that we took the complaint seriously.

4. How to fix the situation: Go above and beyond to make sure the customer is happy. This could mean refunding their purchase or giving them a gift card to show that you value them as a customer and want to ensure that they are satisfied. Ask yourself “If I were in this situation, how would I want the issue resolved?”  In this situation, we offered a gift card to the customer, who was then elated by the gesture and returned to the restaurant for dinner with friends the following week.

5. Follow Up: Always remember to follow up with the customer to make sure that the situation was resolved. Sending a follow-up email or making a quick phone call to ensure that the customer is happy will improve your chances that the customer will return despite the error.

Complaints via social media can either make or break your online presence. By handling these issues in a timely and professional manner, you'll have better chances of keeping your current customers happy and winning over new ones as well!

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