Handling Complaints on Twitter & Facebook

I have a pet peeve with the bigger companies on Twitter and Facebook. Well, it’s not their fault-but it seems that many streams have become a complaint haven. When I click over to the bigger company’s Twitter feeds and Facebook walls (such as T-Mobile, Charter, Verizon etc) much of the time I only see posts addressing complaints from customers.

Now I agree that customers should have the option of communicating online when there is an issue. I have done it myself. And I completely agree that companies should address those complaints. However, companies need to be aware that it gives a horrible impression of their company when one clicks over to their stream and sees only replies to complaints.

There are some companies that are addressing this. Comcast has a separate feed (ComcastCares) for customer service issues and Southwest now says in their bio: “The LUV Airline! For official concerns please use the link provided in the web section above to let us know!” (The link goes to the contact page on their website).

For the companies that have not offered an alternative for complaints in the real world, I offer the following tips so that your stream remains positive, and therefore a draw, for followers:

1. Respond to each complaint in the public stream. No, you don’t have to give all the information but people need to know that you are addressing the issue. So tweet or comment back and say something like “please email me more info” or “looking forward to helping you. Can you DM/message me more?” Also when it’s resolved, tweet that back as well. Try “Thanks so much for letting us know. I hope the issue has been resolved for you?” Follow up is KEY. If it’s on Facebook, make sure you comment on the original stream where the complaint was written.

2. Try to not end the day on a negative note. Of course, this is hard as people can reply to you 24/7 on the sites. But who wants to follow a company when the last five tweets or updates are from upset customers? And more importantly, who wants to give business to those companies? I recommend that several times a day, you add positive info, news, announcements, etc to your stream. This will help counteract any negative or problem-solving tweets.

3. Ask customers who are happy to post that they are happy-especially after an issue has been resolved. Hint- if you tweet directly to the person after the resolution, there is a likely chance that the complainer will respond back in a positive way. I would treat each complaint as an “incident report”.  Follow through on the answer and post the results (keeping customer privacy in mind, of course).

4. Consider another avenue for complaints. Chances are, the customer is not seeking to rat you out on the social sites. They just want a way to contact you, and contact you quickly. So consider the moves above by Southwest Airlines and Comcast and look at advertising another avenue for streaming complaints. Then follow through and get back to your customer quickly.

5. Use search options to find complaints from customers who aren’t complaining on Facebook or Twitter using your username. Keep in mind that some people will complain on the social sites without using your username on the sites.  Of course, it is always best that those complaints are addressed too so once a week or so, search for your name on the social sites.

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