Complaints on Facebook - does it matter how you respond Or if you respond

Complaints on Facebook – does it matter how you respond? Or if you respond?

Social media is a great vehicle for companies to communicate with their customers and prospects. There are a number of companies using social media really well, and perhaps many more not using it at all or not using it well. We can watch and learn from the experts, but it is just as important to learn from what companies aren’t doing.

Many companies use social media as a channel for customer service, encouraging their customers to use social media as an alternative way of airing customer service issues and getting them resolved. Other companies are very sales focused, and use the channel to promote their latest offers. While the focus may be on one area, there still needs to be attention paid to all elements of the customer experience in social media engagement, in order to ensure that something important, and meaningful to the customer or prospect, isn’t missed.

Catch of the Day is very much focused on the use of social media to promote their offers, and with the type of time-limited offers they have, social media is a perfect fit for them. However it is interesting to note how they aren’t using social media.

COTD don’t seem to be very engaged in community management and the management of the comments that flow on their Facebook wall. While the offers are promoted on the wall, and there are lots of positive comments about them, and notes of positive experiences, there are also a lot of comments about negative experiences.

The Facebook wall isn’t only open to existing customers, prospective customers are also looking at these comments, and the negativity can create reluctance to deal with the company. Although negative comments could be removed by the administrator of the wall, this isn’t the best way to create an honest transparent relationship with fans or followers. However, we’re surprised that COTD hasn’t done more to try and address the negative comments, and use the opportunity to turn around the sentiment of these customers (and re-assure nervous prospective customers)

As a new prospective customer, the sentiment from these types of messages indicates that dealing with COTD might be risky, take a long time, or that the goods I order might not be satisfactory. While there may be plenty of evidence to the contrary, nervous first time online shoppers, or those new to the COTD model, may be more easily influenced in a negative direction, rather than a positive one.
On the day we reviewed this, the community manager at one point does step in to address one specific customer query, but the dozens of other negative sentiments in the stream are not addressed.

As is the nature of social media, perhaps COTD aren’t concerned as it’s all so fast flowing that the negative comments will quickly be replaced by more positive ones over a matter of a few days.

However, for anyone looking to foster a more positive experience for potential customers, here are some suggestions:

allow the wall comments to be free-flowing and don’t remove comments (unless they are spam, libellous, racist, defamatory etc)
ensure that any negative comments are addressed – acknowledging the customer’s complaint can be a start of making them more positive about the brand
refer people to where they can find information about these types of concerns, so that anyone reading these comments can also find this information in future
use the learnings from social media in other areas of the site – for example, update the FAQ’s to include the answers to the frequently asked questions,
track the volume and types of comments people are making so that you understand what types of queries people are likely to have, and improve information such as product descriptions, delivery instructions
In COTD’s example, they have mentioned on their Facebook Info page that they are growing very quickly so can’t get deliveries out as quickly as they’d like. They also mention that they do have a customer service link and email for queries (but based on commentary, the emails aren’t answered as promptly as customers would like and customers are having trouble finding a number to call) While the information is there, it isn’t easy to find, and most Facebook users are spending their time on the wall and commenting, rather than looking at other tabs in the Facebook page. Simply referring the wall comments to the areas where these questions are addressed might help to improve people’s impressions.

With over 100k Facebook fans, it’s only a very small percentage of these people who are expressing any degree of dissatisfaction with the COTD experience, so perhaps it’s not a concern to COTD. But there is also a difficult to measure number of prospective customers who may have decided against a purchase after reading these comments.

From a best practice perspective, having the right structures and policies in place to address commonly occurring situations in social media is important. As COTD themselves mention that they are growing quickly, getting these practices in place now is important to ensure that there is a scalable solution for the future.

Creating a clear policy about what to do in the customer complaint scenario and other common situations will help with community management, and ensuring there is adequate resources to manage the community effectively would help improve the experience.

Perhaps COTD already have a policy in place and it was just one of those days for their community manager – it happens! But there is always room to improve the customer experience and turning around sentiment by responding and engaging effectively through social media is a good start.

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