Getting complaints is no fun. (Why can’t everyone just be happy all the time?)
Getting complaints in a public forum is big-time no fun.
And complaining on social media platforms is not only super easy, it’s also super commonplace, and super easy to spread widely. Unfortunately, as ever, it is not always easy to respond to customer complaints courteously, professionally, and successfully.
That’s why we were so tickled to come across this fine piece on Forbes.com focusing on best practices for handling (and preventing) customer complaints. These are practices that we rely on ourselves, and it’s clear that many of the independent insurance agents we follow on social media rely on these same practices to keep their clients happy.
Prevent Social Media Complaints
No matter how outstanding your agency’s service is, and no matter how professional and knowledgeable you and the other agents are, not every client is going to be happy. Someone, somewhere, is going to find a reason to complain.
That, you can’t prevent 100 percent.
What you can do is make it easy for your few dissatisfied clients to contact you directly, so that they don’t feel compelled to broadcast their negative feelings all over Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Yelp, or any other platform.
- Offer multiple ways to contact your office. In addition to your phone number and email address, consider adding a live chat function to your website, and including all your agency’s contact info in the footer of every email from every staffer.
- Respond to client complaints promptly. Don’t allow dissatisfied customers to stew—and start thinking up other ways to air their grievances. (Ways that may include blasting your agency on every social network they belong to!)
- Make sure agency staff is trained to respond to complaints promptly, professionally, and courteously. A positive experience with your agency following a complaint can go a long way toward preventing that client from complaining again in the future.
Handle Social Media Complaints Well
In real estate, the rule of three is location, location, location. In the world of social media complaints, the rule is respond, respond, respond! (Which we often modify to respond promptly, respond promptly, respond promptly!)
- Contact the complainer as quickly as possible.
- Move the conversation to a private channel—private online chat, email, or phone.
- Express regret about the client’s negative experience.
- Although you may feel attacked if a social media complaint makes outrageously negative claims about your agency, try to manage your defensiveness. Remember, this is a client you’re hoping to keep!
Look for the Opportunity in Social Media Complaints
Businesses receive complaints. That’s just a fact of life.
But your prompt and courteous response to a social media complaint can go a long way toward building your agency’s good reputation. Other people may be impressed by the way your agency handles unhappy customers, and strives to resolve the situation.
A timely response can also be very effective in drawing this negative situation to a quick and satisfying close.
As Micah Solomon writes in the Forbes.com piece we mentioned earlier: “An event in the online world gathers social steam with such speed that your delay can become more of a problem than the initial incident.”
And here are a few statistics to warm the cockles of your heart: According to a recent survey, 18% of complaining customers who receive a response to their complaint go on to become loyal customers of the company they were complaining about. More than 30% proceed to post a positive review of the company, and even more than that actually delete the original negative review.
No one likes to get complaints, and it’s simply not possible to avoid them all the time. But if you make the best of this negative situation, you may actually come out ahead.