Why complaining on Social Media works

Almost everyone that use Social Media has at some time seen this comment on a post. “Complaining on Social Media doesn’t work.” or “Go talk to the manager”. Or, “Complaining on Social Media is a waste of time”.

I have come to the conclusion that people that regularly say this, and probably believe this, are the same people who would ignore social media complaints if their business were at the receiving end. They won’t respond and, in some cases, even verbally attack the complainant on Social Media if they dared make a negative remark about their business or service. These people react badly to negative criticism or complaints and then assume that all business owners feel the same way. It’s a classic example of confirmation bias and ignorance.

The irony is that almost every single one of the people that say complaining on Social Media does not work, have themselves complained on Social Media at some point. You then have to question their motives and herein lies the crux of the matter.

Many people that are opposed to complaints on Soicial Media have friends that own businesses that give poor service and are regularly on the receiving end of complaints. Inevitably they want to protect their friends. What they don’t realise is that they are not being good friends and they are doing these businesses more damage than good. Businesses that receive many complaints get these complaints because they provide bad service. It’s really as simple as that. There is no other motivation for people to bother to complain on Social Media and in 99.9% of the cases these complaints are valid.

Let me reiterate. Complaining on Social media works. It gets results. All the time.

If you’re tired of being treated poorly by retailers, airlines and other service-industry types, take revenge via social media. You will get heard, and get action.

Whether it’s a bad experience with a brand or receiving a faulty product, 67 percent of consumers have at some point contacted a business through its social media channels to provide negative feedback.

“There is a tremendous echo in social-media channels,” said Thomas Sclafani, a spokesman for American Express, which found in a recent survey that consumers who use social media to get a company’s attention wield a much bigger stick than those who don’t.

That’s because, beyond the broader audience who might see a complaint on, say, Facebook or Twitter, people who use social media to voice their discontent are much likelier to also talk to people directly about the problem, compared with someone who simply calls the customer-service center.

Social media-ites, according to the American Express survey, will directly tell 53 people about bad customer-service experiences, who will tell their friends who will tell their friends and so on.

Those who don’t use social media tell only 17 people they’re unhappy with a service, compared with the 24 people that the general population tells.

The same is true for good experiences, by the way. Social-media users tell 42 people they were thrilled with some service versus the nine people told by those who don’t use social media and the 15 people with whom the general population confides.

Overwhelmingly, consumers still take the traditional face-to-face and phone route to speak to real, live people to make complaints, according to American Express’s annual Global Customer Service Barometer. But they’re getting better results when they amplify that complaint on a widely used social-media site like Facebook or Twitter.

Not sure if you need to worry about this? Maybe these stats can convince you to boost your social service efforts:

  • Customers are likely to spend 20 to 40 percent more with a business after a successful social customer service experience.
  • Brands can see as much as three times more potential revenue from resolved negative issues on social media than revenue brought in just from positive reviews.
  • Nearly three-quarters (71 percent) of individuals who have a good social customer service experience are more likely to recommend a business to others.

These numbers may sway you to bolster your customer service on social sites, but let’s look at some real examples of social media customer service, and how they helped or hurt the respective brands.

Success stories

Call it the power of the people online. It manifested late last year when Molly Katchpole, the then-22-year-old part-time nanny took on the mighty Bank of America’s efforts to tag $5 debit-card fees on customers.

The 300,000-strong signatures on her Change.org petition—not to mention the scores of unsigned sympathizers—forced the nation’s largest bank and its competitors to back off from charging people to spend their own money.

When Verizon attempted to levy a $2 online-payment fee. More than 130,000 signatures made it to that petition in 24 hours, and the company backed down.

There have been other outrages publicized via social media. Take the Canadian songwriter who came up against United Airlines when it wouldn’t cover his $3,500 guitar that was broken by baggage handlers. His humorous protest “United Breaks Guitars” went viral on YouTube and prompted United to give him a one-time licensing fee to use his video in its customer-service training.

Turn negative into positive

So what do you do when you get that dreaded negative comment on your company Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or other page? Well, obviously whatever you do, don’t follow the lead of Pigalle’s manager. Instead, focus on the strategies below to ensure you’re providing an exceptional service experience online no matter how negative the feedback is.

Don’t ignore it: If you decide to ignore a negative comment, it’s not going to go away. In fact, failing to provide an answer to a customer’s issue on social media can increase your churn rate by 15 percent. Address the comment, find out what the issue is and work to resolve it.

Throw out the script: People know a canned response when they see one. Don’t rely on scripted answers for customer issues. This makes your brand appear robotic, and customers may think you are not focused on individually connecting with them.

Listen and empathize: Customers want to feel like they are heard, so take the time to listen (or read) their concerns. Empathizing with their problems (much like JetBlue did) goes a long way to keeping them as loyal patrons in the future. You can even have fun with it, if the situation warrants a bit of humor.

Watch the clock: As evidenced by the British Airways example, customers want their issues resolved – or at least addressed – within a reasonable time frame. Make sure you respond to negative feedback in a timely manner. Even if you can’t offer a solution right away, acknowledging the comment helps turn negative feedback into a positive experience.

Learn from it: All of your efforts are for nothing if you don’t take what you’ve learned and apply it going forward. If you’re getting the same negative comments over and over, that shows your brand isn’t doing anything to fix the problem, and potential customers will be turned off.

Negative feedback on social media can be scary, but it doesn’t have to hurt you. By taking the right steps, you can turn what might look like a bad situation and into a positive one – for both your company and your customers.

Tripadvisor epitomises new age arrogance

New age arrogance is a really horrid thing. It’s a cancer that started about 10 years ago and it has been growing rapidly.

New age arrogance is when a company such as Tripadvisor resorts to complex forums and other techniques to avoid speaking to their customers. Customers that have problems with their property or business listing on Tripadvisor has no way of resolving their issues or problems and Tripadvisor has become so big that they don’t give a shit. They can lose thousands of customers and it won’t make the slightest difference.

Instead of providing proper customer service, they create support forums that are , you guessed it, managed by their clients! And the incredible thing is that the average customer is such an idiot that he does it gladly, spending hours answering support questions for the “community” for no reward.

Tripadvisor has not one email address listed. No way to contact anyone at the Tripadvisor Empire. It’s actually really pathetic. What makes it worse is that their systems are really poor. They are great at raking in the money by enticing customers to join due to their size, but when it comes to after sales support, they must be in the Top 10 worst customer service organisations on the planet. Google of course takes the number one spot for being über assholes.

Now, other companies are also following suit, the suits and pony tails doing the Macarena in the hallways because they managed to find a way to avoid employing decent support staff – milking their stupid customers for more, whilst actually doing less.

This model will backfire. The Tripadvisor’s and Google’s will perish one day to be replaced by companies that are truly customer centric and service orientated.

I don’t need their crap service and you don’t either. The less people support these parasitic organisations the sooner we will create the space for quality companies to thrive. Companies that appreciate their customers.

DSTV didn’t listen. Now they’re going to pay.

netflixvsdstv

In 1998 I wrote a letter to DSTV and warned them that their arrogance is going to cost them their business. Over the years DSTV has become the poster boy for a company that exploits its customers to the point of extortion. They were riding the wave of first mover advantage. But, instead of building a long-term, sustainable business, they milked us for all they could.

One of the things they did was to charge customers as much as they could. It wasn’t a case of adding a reasonable margin, but instead how much they could get away with. That can work as long as you have the monopoly, but not when you get some competition. The low-cost airlines do the same. They would sell flights for as much as they could, instead of trying to make a reasonable profit margin. That is why a flight from Johannesburg to George can cost twice as much as a flight from Johannesburg to Cape Town, which is twice the distance. It’s exploitation and greed.

Companies that make easy money because they have a monopoly often exploit their customers and are examples of the ugly side of capitalism. They never last in the long term.

DSTV ignored my warnings and continued on their path. In 1999 Netflix launched and today they launched in South Africa. DSTV will not be around in 2025. Their days are numbered. They milked the cow and it’s now dry.

Instead of focusing on innovation and building a long-term, sustainable business by being customer-centric, they just killed the goose that lay the golden egg. Or rather, Netflix came and stole the goose.

Netflix just stole the goose.

DSTV has been warned numerous times about their arrogance. Arrogance in companies is often demonstrated through the way it treats it’s customers. DSTV has by far the worst call center in the country and despite many complaints refuse to change its ways. It’s almost impossible to deal with them and the frustration levels of customers are high, never mind the exorbitant cost of the monthly subscription. The DSTV website is one of the worst websites in South Africa and despite many complaints they continue to ignore their customers. Double billing is rife and I have come to the conclusion that purposeful mismanagement cannot be ruled out. It’s just happening too often.

Again this year, at the beginning of January thousands of customers were incorrectly debited twice. The call center acts as if they were not aware of the double billing, treating their customers as if they are fools. Of course they knew.

DSTV opened the door for Netflix. They realised this a few months ago and attempted to block them by launching Showmax. Unfortunately too little, too late. Netflix now has the first mover advantage and DSTV is trying to play catch-up. With a whole bunch of pissed off customers, I don’t think they’re going to get very far.

It’s going to take a little while for consumers to become Netflix savvy, but its going to happen. When devices become more user friendly and connectivity becomes even cheaper, there will be a mass exodus from DSTV.

Now we just need Netflix to get some of the big attractions in their bouquet, such as local sport, soapies and the like. It won’t be long before you have absolutely no reason to be a DSTV customer.

Arrogance in business is fatal.

R.I.P Dstv.

 

Related posts: 

https://marthinusstrydom.wordpress.com/2015/11/14/the-3-worst-south-african-websites/

https://marthinusstrydom.wordpress.com/2015/09/11/why-why-why/

 

 

 

How to deal with customer complaints

How to deal with customer complaints

Yes, it’s true. More people complain that compliment. It’s natural human behavior. People complain when they’re upset and seldom compliment good service. Good service is expected. Bad service is not.

Customer complaints are part and parcel of running a business and every business gets complaints, no matter how good they are. The idea is obviously to get as few as possible complaints. 

 Today community communication through social media is ubiquitous. Everyone belongs to some group or forum where they share common interests and it’s easy for them to share their opinion about the service they received at a business. Inevitably they share their bad experiences because they want to either “get even” or because they want to legitimately warn their friends. 

In the past many large companies had call centers and help lines dealing with complaints. Today most companies have social media teams that monitor online chatter about their brand. Some even use complex software to track and monitor online mentions. These teams then respond to complains online ensuring that the complaints don’t spiral out of control and eventually become viral.

Some companies are very good at it while others are notoriously bad at it. The ones that are bad at it are typically still stuck in the old school thinking that if they ignore the complaint then it will go away. The problem with social media is that it seldom just goes away. In fact, it typically escalates into a much bigger problem and if dealt with expeditiously in the beginning the escalation could have been prevented. Companies that are bad at dealing with online complaints typically also just provide bad service. 

 So what must a business do to deal with complaints effectively? 

 You don’t have to be a multinational company with a team of social media experts to deal with complaints effectively. You don’t need complex software algorithms to warn you about online activity. The first and foremost thing you need to do is provide good service.

The reality is that if you provide good service then you will seldom have to deal with complaints. Your purpose is to provide a service to your customers and if they don’t like what you’re doing then obviously you are doing something wrong. How can you know if you are on the wrong track? How will you know if you are overcharging your customers? How will you know if your product or service is crappy? Your cusrtomers will tell you. In no uncertain terms. 

 How do you fix it? 

 By listening and then acting accordingly.

Every company is inside a community. It could be a geographical community or industry. Every company operates inside a community. Find the places where your community congregates online. Join these communities and participate. Listen, read and be watchful. It’s your community and you need to know what they are saying.

If you pick up one complaint about your business don’t stick your head in the sand like an ostrich. Don’t take it personally. Don’t get upset. Don’t become indignant. Every customer has a right to complain if they feel they were short-changed or didn’t receive the service they paid for. It’s their right, guaranteed in our Constitution. In addition it’s legal. 

It’s totally legal for a customer to complain about poor service. In fact the Consumer a Protection Act actively encourages complaining about service issues. 

The only time you, as the business owner will have recourse is if the complaint is obviously defamatory. It can only be defamatory if it’s not the truth. If I say that the hamburger you sold me is too expensive then it’s my opinion and you have no recourse. If I say that it tasted bad, then you cannot sue me. If I say that I found a cockroach in my food and it’s not true and I can’t prove it then I am lying and you can sue me for defamation.

The reality is that most complaints are legitimate. Why would someone bother to complain if it’s not true? 

 So how do you handle it? 

 Once you see the complaint respond immediately. Immediately apologise and offer to correct it. Don’t make lame-ass excuses. Consumers aren’t stupid. Be genuine and apologize. Offer to rectify the situation.

Listen and learn. Don’t be hard-assed. Don’t be bullheaded and fob the customer off by insinuating that they don’t know what they’re talking about. The customer is king and you must respect the fact that they spend their money with you. You are either going to create a prophet for your business or you are going to create a terrorist. 

 Be honest with yourself. If the customer is right and you can change the way you do things then do it. Change your recipe. Reprimand a staff member that annoyed the customer. Change your pricing policy. Improve your service.

By being open minded you will constantly improve and you will receive less complaints. You will have more happy customers. Your reputation will improve and people will notice that you really care about the service you provide. 

Every possible opportunity you have to interact with a customer is a good marketing opportunity. Your goal must be to turn every disgruntled customer into a happy customer. Even if you are responding to a complaint online you are marketing yourself. It’s an opportunity to talk to customers. Isn’t that what business are supposed to do? 

In closing, the excuse that you don’t use Facebook or Twitter or Instagram is not a valid excuse.  These are your tools. They should be your new best friends. If you don’t know how to use these tools then learn. Find a way. 

Ignorance is not an excuse and if you don’t use these tools then you will have to bear the brunt of the brutal immediacy that social media will unleash upon you.