3 Ways to Prevent, Identify and Engage Unhappy Customers on Social Media

Posted by
Terra Walker Mrkulić
LivePerson Contributor
Thursday, April 3, 2014 - 16:41

With the explosion of digital channels, online reputation management (as well as high quality customer service) is more critical than ever. Customer complaints online spread like wildfire from one social network to the next. When someone feels as though they’ve been wronged by a brand they care about, they’ll go out of their way to share their negative feelings with as many people possible.  Like it or not, social media has given your customers a massive megaphone with which to amplify their level of satisfaction about your brand.

No matter how great your customer service is, complaints are bound to happen, especially in the ecommerce landscape. It’s how a brand chooses to handle negative situations that can win or lose potential customers watching from the social sidelines.

Protecting your brand reputation takes planning. Your teams must be armed to address complaints in a timely, convenient fashion. Here are three ways you can prevent, identify and engage unhappy customers:


1. Prevent Complaints: Analyze Consumer Behavior

By pinpointing dissatisfied customers before they complain, you can resolve issues before they even happen. The same way brands can collect intelligent insights on high-impact shoppers, brands can assess behaviors of those most likely to complain offsite—and guide service resources to address issues onsite.

With intelligent, predictive behavioral targeting, brands can monitor:

  • Who is hovering on a complaint form or customer service page.
  • Interaction records to become aware of a site visitor who is more apt to complain.
  • Consumers who may be having navigation difficulties.
  • Those who are seeking support.

With intelligent engagement you can target those visitors in crisis and resolve their issues before they get upset and go elsewhere to vent their frustrations.


2. Identify Situations That Require Your Attention: Listen

Consumers are talking about you in forums, social channels, blogs, review sites, and complaint bureaus. Do you know what they are saying? Exact Target’s 2014 State of Marketing Report found that more than half of marketers (60%) engaged in social listening in 2013.

By implementing a robust social listening tool, you can track conversations happening in real-time and understand the recurring issues that that lead to customer complaints. For instance, if your brand requires consumers to call an 800-number to get customer service and hold times are frequently very long, you can be sure that angry consumers are talking about this issue across the internet.

Listening to what consumers are already saying is key so you can engage and then put the necessary steps in place that will lead to a change in the conversation.  Forrester even said that social listening is a good indicator of brand health. Ignoring social conversation can be dangerous; you’ll miss out on opportunities to build better customers relationships.

One big brand example is Wendy’s, according to a recent article from Econsultancy. Through social listening, the fast food chain found that customers were weary of menu options that didn’t include nutritional information. Shortly after, they released an app for that. Problem solved, thanks to social feedback.


3) Engage: The Quickest Path to Resolution

According to Edison Research, 42% of those attempting to engage brands on social expect a response within just 60 minutes.  If someone takes their dissatisfaction and posts it on a public site for all to view, chances are they are pretty angry and they want an immediate response. Receiving no response, or worse, seeing their post deleted, will only further incite the customer—they’ll never come back to you.  As unpleasant as it can be to handle an unhappy customer in a public forum, ignoring the situation only leads to more trouble.

Facing the problem head-on quickly with empathy and authenticity is your best bet. And to get your customer talking to you directly is usually the fastest path to a resolution.  I’m seeing more and more of our customers using invitations to chat with customer service right in their social channels-- for example in tweets and facebook posts. This is effective on several fronts:

  • Gives the unsatisfied customer immediate access to someone who can resolve the issue.
  • Shows the community that brand is listening and reacting which translates to good customer care.
  • Takes the conversation between you and the customer to a private space so the issue, which often includes sensitive account or payment details, can be appropriately handled.

How a brand handles complaints can turn a negative to a positive. I am sure you, like me, have had a negative shopping experience that after being expertly handled made you respect the brand MORE in the end. Giving your customers immediate access to customer service teams wherever they interact with your brand: in-store, on your website, on social and even on mobile is a great start to keeping your brand reputation intact.

Generate Positive Social Media Buzz

To balance out any negative commentary, focus on proactively creating positive conversation on your social pages. According to new research by Ogilvy (in conjunction with CIC, Visible Technologies and Radian 6) “the study estimates that around 15% of brand mentions could be deemed “advocacy mentions,” in which the person made a positive comment about the brand.”

Social identity has great influence over your brand image online. Your social customers are likely also highly impactful customers. From the Bain & Company Report (2012):

“Customers who engage with companies over social media spend 20% to 40% more money with those companies than other customers.”

To create positive chatter on your social networks, find creative ways to encourage social activity among happy customers. For example:

  •  Send targeted messages to customers (Tweet your purchase!) following a positive engagement–i.e. live chat customer assistance, completed transaction, etc.
  •  Put the social in social media: engage your network with interesting conversation. Ask them questions (i.e. “It’s that time of year again! What’s on your wish list?”) tailored to your audience and industry.
  • Always make social sharing buttons available on original content pieces, like blog posts or case studies.
  • Hold social contests that invite customer engagement and offer discounts or coupons to the winning customer.

Customers look to each other for honest, unbiased brand feedback. So, bad social exposure is a lot like bad press, but worse.  These complaints are taken seriously by other prospective consumers; according to Forrester Research: “Seventy percent of consumers trust brand recommendations from friends, but only 10% trust advertising.” Bottom line: It will impact your bottom line.  Protect and promote your brand reputation on social by strategically seeking and engaging social complainers.

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