Brands engaging in social customer service can win on many fronts: lower cost to serve, improved satisfaction and increased customer loyalty. But there will inevitably be times when you receive negative feedback or an angry tweet from a frustrated customer. Although it can feel time consuming to manage or analyse every comment or mention, in the long run negative feedback can be a positive learning experience for your business.
If handled correctly negative posts or comments can deliver a gold mine of valuable information and be used to make business improvements that ultimately help customers.
“Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning” Bill Gates
Ensure you pick up all relevant comments and mentions by monitoring outside of your @handle. In high volume situations it can be easy to skip over negative comments. But not answering customers on social channels can lead to a 15% increase in the churn rate for existing customers (Gartner)
Why negative feedback is good
There are 3 main reasons you should welcome and embrace negative customer feedback on social:
#1 Creates a turn-around opportunity
Customers who’ve have a bad customer experience don’t always complain, they just leave and buy elsewhere meaning you never get a chance to win them back.
- Over 1 million people view tweets about customer service every week. Roughly 80% of those tweets are negative or critical in nature. (Touch Agency)
- The Ombudsman Services – Consumer Action Monitor calculates the cost of poor service to businesses is £37 billion, with more than a quarter (28%) of consumers spending less with a company or taking their custom elsewhere.
However Accenture research indicates that Eighty-one (81%) of consumers who switch loyalties say the company could have done something differently to keep them as customers. This demonstrates the importance of delivering an effective social customer service experience.
Innocent responds to customers on social for asking for more details about the problem, and takes action to put it right.
#2 Re-builds customer advocacy
An unhappy customer who reaches out deserves a response. Responding promptly and making every effort to resolve their issue goes a long way to building loyalty. An uptick in retention is a positive for any business. Even a small increase in customer retention can have a meaningful impact on business performance.
- According to Gartner a 2% increase in customer retention has the same effect as decreasing costs by 10%.
- 71% of consumers who experience positive social customer care are likely to recommend the brand to others, compared with just 19% of customers who do not get a response (NM Incite)
- Twitter confirms customers who receive a response are 30% more likely to recommend the brand
- 69% of people who Tweeted negatively say they feel more favourable when a business replies to their concern.
When a customer complains, and you resolve it positively this creates a favourable impression of your brand. Over time this will increase satisfaction, loyalty levels and ultimately your bottom line.
#3 Provides intelligent insights about customer behaviour or new trends
Use tagging and reporting to organise and analyse your complaints. This will enable you see trends and patterns in the topics customers are complaining about and will help you improve your operational processes. If you’re getting heaps of complaints about late deliveries it might be time to look at your delivery provider and see if you can work together to improve this. Sometimes your customers will give you a heads up about an issue that another team can fix. Use a social customer service app with reporting capabilities so you can easily run regular reports to identify areas for improvement or further investigation.
Here Heathrow airport get a message about a broken lift which could cause other passengers an issue.
#4 Highlights potential cost savings through lower cost to serve
Social has a lower cost compared to other more traditional channels such as voice or email. So it makes sense to encourage customers to use your social channels and reduce cost. Once customers see you respond to complaints on social media, they will see it as a quick alternative to more costly channels.
- Social customer care costs around $1 per interaction while phone support costs at least $6 (NM Incite)
We now know why negative social media feedback is useful, but recording and analysing it is just the start. It also needs a response. Ignoring a negative comment won’t make it go away and social onlookers will interpret your lack of response as not caring.
Here are our top 4 tips for responding to negative mentions or comments on social media. For a full list read our blog post: How to manage social media complaints with confidence
Most consumers generally expect a response within 15 minutes. Organise your social team so that they can process and respond to comments efficiently. Use a social customer care tool that enables you to easily see incoming mentions in a single inbox, and filter out noise.
Respond in channel
Wherever possible try to stay in channel. There will be occasions when for privacy or security reasons you need to switch to a more private channel, however if possible try to respond to the customer on their chosen channel. At the very least use a holding response and state you are looking in it as soon as you can, so they know it’s being dealt with. If you do have to move the conversation try to follow up on the original comment to check the customer is happy with the resolution.
Being professional doesn’t have to mean boring. It’s important to show the customer you are listening to their problem, but if your brand personality is fun and quirky you can also reflect this on social. Adding a drop of humour can sometimes diffuse the frustration and anger of the situation.
Wholefoods adds a dash of humour to liven up their chocolate cake recipe. They also have a #HealthYeah hastag.
To help make DM’s more personal in the future and to let customers know when they are interacting with a real person not a chatbot. Twitter is testing a way to allow businesses to add custom profiles for customer service agents.
Go above and beyond
Brands can win big with customers by going that little bit further. The unhappy customer forgets the bad experience and the social onlookers see that the company is responsive and genuinely cares about their customers.
76% of consumers are likely to recommend a brand following friendly service, but 82% are unlikely to following unfriendly service.
Nike empowers customer support agents to be proactive and offer customers in-the-moment assistance which goes a long way to creating a positive brand interaction.
To find out more about social customer service can help you make more customers happier, and create long-term brand advocates, read our guide: How to handle social customer service at scale