Saturday, January 5, 2013
How to Respond to Online Customer Complaints
Whatever happened to the old adage that a satisfied customer will tell three people and an unsatisfied customer will tell ten? Now disgruntled customers can share their rant about a company for the whole world to hear on blogs, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
Better Business Bureau advises that responding to complaints is necessary if a company wants to maintain a reputation for great customer service. In the same way that an online rant can damage a company’s reputation, successfully handling complaints online can showcase a company’s dedication to customer service, setting it apart from the competition.
BBB offers the following advice to small business owners on responding to customer rants:
Continually monitor the online conversation. One of the easiest ways to monitor the conversation, however, is to simply do an Internet search of your company’s name every couple days, keeping an eye out for new results. Set up Google Alerts, to receive e-mail messages when people post comments online or if your company is mentioned in the news.
Pick your battles. Depending on the size of your business, it can be extremely time consuming to address every blog post, comment or tweet.
Offer full disclosure. When defending your company online, don’t pretend to be an unbiased consumer. Tech savvy individuals can easily deduce who is behind comments so it’s best to be honest and admit up-front that you represent the company.
Take the conversation offline. Some companies have made the mistake of hashing out disputes online for everyone to see. Instead, keep online responses polite and direct and ask the customer if you can contact them directly by e-mail or phone to discuss the specific details of their complaint.
Don’t say anything privately that you wouldn’t want public. Just because you’ve taken the conversation offline, it doesn’t mean that your e-mails and phone conversations won’t end up on the Internet, so always remain polite and professional.
Follow through. Don’t drop the conversation when resolving a dispute and always follow through on promises. Consider providing a little extra perk, such as coupons, after the issue has been resolved.
Know when to walk away. There’s no satisfying some angry customers and at times a small business owner can only offer a sincere apology and walk away from the conversation.
For more BBB advice on providing great customer service both on and off-line visit www.bbb.org.