In this technological age customer care and what to do when customers complain is a much more tricky concept than it has been at other times in history. Before the rise of the social networks, customer care was done by companies and customers “having it out” in person or over the phone. The offended customer could also tell his/her immediate friends, but that was about it.
With the advent of the social web, a complaint by a customer can go viral in just seconds and a company caught unaware can have their reputation (and their bottom line) damaged in the blink of an eye. So what is a small business/solo-entrepreneur supposed to do when customers complain online? There are three principle things that you need to do:
- Get to the complaint as quickly as possible. This means that you are going to have to monitor your name and the name of your company online. There are several options with which to do this. Find the best one for you and monitor things closely.
- Respond in a personal way to the complaint. Don’t just “fire back” at the complainer. They are upset about something and you need to both understand their complaint and what they would like you to do to fix the problem. Seek to make sure everyone online who is following you knows you have seen the complaint and are working with the customer to straighten things out. Then send a PM to the customer and work with them personally to resolve the issue.
- Once the issue is resolved ask the customer to post that the issue has been resolved. The same people who heard the complaint should also know that it was heard and resolved. You need to also post that a resolution has been achieved to your online community so that they will have confidence that you will consider any problem that they may encounter with you, your products/services.
Not every complaint can be resolved amiably, but if the complaint is made online, then you need to allow your online community know that you are doing everything you can to resolve every issue that arises. This kind of quit response will limit any damage to the reputation of you and your company when customers complain online.