The Customer is Always Right (on Social Media)

The old customer-service adage, “the customer is always right” is especially true on any social media platform. When a customer has a bad experience in a brick and mortar establishment, the incident can typically be resolved through the immediate intervention of a manager. However, when a customer encounters a bad digital experience the entire world (i.e. your brand’s entire online customer following, as well as anyone within one-degree of separation) can easily know a one-sided view of the incident with the click of a “share icon.”

IS SOCIAL MEDIA THE NEW SOAPBOX FOR A DISGRUNTLED CUSTOMER?

Of late, social media networks have become the soapbox platforms for many customers. They are the forum for immediately voicing opinions without any thought about the repercussions. These networks offer the perfect opportunity for customers to complain, provide criticism, or to actively support any business. It is for these very reasons, that companies must tread carefully on social media. They must be ready to immediately respond to both positive and negative customer feedback. Their responses must not only be timely, they must be appropriate — let’s not forget the case of the ever-ready screen shot — I’m looking at you U.S. Airways, 1-800-Flowers, or any of the numerous viral instances when a social media post or apology went awry. And so, rather than an extensive list of hypotheticals that might not accurately apply to every social media instance of customer outcry, here are two “don’ts” and two “do’s” that will serve you well in your responses to disgruntled customers.

  • Don’t waste time debating with a customer online. It is far too easy to manipulate comments via selective screen shots or Photoshop.
  • Don’t post tongue-in-cheek remarks that will immediately cause someone to post “that’s racist,” “that’s anti-feminism,” or any “wtf” type comments that seem to have become the new social media currency.
  • Do think of your comments as those binding confidentiality agreements that will never expire. Unless you are a very savvy tech guru, once you post anything online it leaves a digital footprint that can always be tracked.
  • Do tread carefully by remembering that a proper response can change your biggest critic into your loudest brand ambassador.

Until further notice, the customer is always right on social media. You might not agree with what they have to say, and they might be completely inaccurate in their understanding of company rules and regulations, but as long as they decide to engage your company in a dialogue via social media they are always right. They are right because they chose to contact you directly, which is what any good business asks of its customers. They might be wrong in their accusations or chosen means of communication, but once the dialogue has started you must put yourself in their shoes, which means thinking that they are right. Only through this pro-customer mentality can you hope to revert a disgruntled customer back into a positive brand ambassador.

Written by: Laura P. Parker
Publisher Note: Article originally published here

Laura P. Parker is a freelance writer and content marketing consultant who specializes in improving the marketing efforts of small-businesses through well-written, engaging, and ROI enhancing content.  laura@laurapparker.com www.laurapparker.com

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