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Handling Customer Complaints at Scale on Social Media: Tips and Best Practices

Noelle Yeager
Jan 7, 2020 10:45:00 AM

Customer complaints. They’re the type of comment no brand wants to see on its social media ads. Yet, customers are voicing out their displeasure on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Such public posts can impact user perception and (if unchecked) can do serious damage to your ads. How are brands handling customer complaints on their ads, and when and how should they reply?

According to HubSpot, it takes 12 positive brand interactions to counteract one negative experience. It’s no wonder that Forbes reported that U.S. companies lost $75 billion to poor customer service in 2018.

Of course, every marketing professional wants to see Return on Ad Spend figures climbing and Cost per Click dropping. However, you can't leave this goal to chance. Successful marketers bake scalable customer complaint strategies into their social marketing strategy.

Customer Service in the Digital Era

Traditional channels for customer support are falling out of favor. Research from Customer Thermometer shows that 57 percent of people prefer digital customer service channels to customer service phone calls. That’s understandable. On social media, you can get a one-on-one conversation without the risk of being placed on hold.

Apart from using social media to voice customer service issues, Microsoft’s 2018 State of Global Customer Service Report notes that 83 percent of global users expect an answer from the brand on social within 24 hours. To put this into perspective, that’s a 73 percent increase compared to 2017, when it's okay to respond in 2 days. Now, 24 hours still isn’t good enough for many. 46 percent of users expect a response immediately or within an hour.

Knowing the above, the key question for brands isn’t “Do we respond to complaints on social media?” Rather, the question is “How do we find these comments and act quickly, around the clock?”

Maximizing Resources: Handling Customer Complaints vs. Tracking Constructive Feedback

How do you filter out the comments that need to be attended to out from all the noise? There is a huge difference between a user who comments “Help! My order hasn’t arrived yet, it’s over a week late!” and “This product is too difficult to open.” One user needs help now, from one of your brand representatives. The other is sharing valuable insights that should be tracked and acknowledged. 77 percent of global consumers look favorably on brands that recognize customer feedback.

Both comments are types of linguistic complaints that brands work to recognize. Brands that manage these comments effectively have SOPs in place to differentiate between customer complaints that need the customer service team’s attention, and comments containing feedback elating to the brand, its products, and/or its services.

To be effective in responding to customer complaints, your brand must make this distinction and tailor how to engage with them.

Handling Customer Complaints vs. Tracking Constructive Feedback

Strategies for Handling Customer Complaints on Social

What's the best way to deal with a comment that requires help from your customer service team?

The first course of action is always to acknowledge the user’s difficulty. And the next step is to direct them to get one-on-one help via a private conversation. This can be a DM, a website chat function, email, or even a phone number. You can use whatever system your brand already has in place to handle customer service issues.

If you respond within an hour, you'll meet the expectations of 82 percent of users reaching out with complaints on social media.

However, for many companies, the difficulty is not only about handling customer complaints. The bigger problem is how to connect social teams and customer service teams without draining the resources of both. Fortunately, tech offers a lot of help. There are now tools that identify customer complaints and automatically route it to the correct team for action.

Strategies for Acknowledging Feedback 

It is important to acknowledge comments offering constructive feedback. However, pushing feedback to your customer service team because it’s “technically a complaint” is not an efficient use of resources.

Brands that handle constructive feedback well are those who:

  • Have clearly defined areas where feedback is acknowledged.
  • Have a pool of pre-approved responses to pull from to maximize efficiency.

As a brand, do you want to respond to users who think that your product is too expensive? Can you design a response set that works for both feedback about price and product quality? We recommend a minimum of 30 options to prevent robotic engagement and response fatigue. In our experience, creating response sets often yield measurable gains in efficiency.

To Hide or Not to Hide Customer Complaints?

The traditional thinking is that a complaint on an ad can lower its performance. And this is true if customer complaints go unaddressed.

However, social marketers should note that about 60% of customers want to use social media to reach out to your customer service team.

The existence of customer complaints on your ads isn’t necessarily what’s pulling down performance (especially considering that recent NLP research finds negative sentiment and customer complaints don’t always go hand-in-hand). Rather, your response – or lack thereof – is what drives user perception.

Microsoft’s 2018 State of Global Customer Service Report found 59 percent of global consumers have a more favorable impression of brands handling customer complaints directly on social media. If you look specifically at customers aged 18 to 34, this number jumps to 77 percent.

The answer to managing customer complaints on social isn’t to apply a blanket approach of hiding them. Instead, you should develop a system that lets you manage complaints at scale, showing users you’re there to meet their expectations. While 59 percent of customers expect brands to deliver higher quality customer service compared to 2018, brands will be competing on the quality of customer experience.

How BrandBastion Can Help

BrandBastion’s Moderation, Alerts, Customer Engagement, and Insights solutions help some of the world’s leading brands effectively and efficiently manage customer complaints at scale, 24/7. We use a mix of AI, machine learning, natural language processing, and human quality assurance systems to:

  • Develop comprehensive Customer Engagement strategies. The strategies make sure your responses to customer complaints help increase your ROAS.
  • Meet user expectations for brand response time on social within a one-hour window.
  • Bridge the gap between social marketing and customer service departments. We issue pre-approved responses on a brand’s behalf to connect users with the customer service team.
  • Alert your customer service team to escalating customer service situations. For instance, when upset users hijack your advertising and your immediate attention is needed.
  • Respond to constructive feedback on a brand’s behalf. We take this burden off your team while also reinforcing positive brand interactions.
  • Provide detailed reporting on customer complaints trends. These reports allow your team to take actions that move the needle.

Interested in getting help with handling customer complaints? Let’s begin the conversation.

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