Using social media to handle disgruntled customers

Unhappy customers are far more visible today than ever before, as consumers can easily take to social media outlets and online review sites to dispatch their gripes for everyone to see.

As such, it's never been more important for organizations to focus on customer satisfaction strategies as part of their national or local internet marketing campaigns. Platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn already do a good job leveling the playing field by enabling both large and small businesses to interact with their customers on a more personal level.

Social Media Today explains that it's important to react promptly to complaints, citing a study that found more than 58 percent of Twitter users have tweeted about a bad experience but never received a response from the offending company.

In situations where a quick resolution is not immediately apparent, the news source suggests offering a "dedicated, unlisted" email address to deal with the issue.

Once a problem has been resolved, businesses can determine the effectiveness of their customer care strategy based upon responsiveness (average reply time), number of daily complaints, amount of praise received (is it increasing?) and ability to resolve issues quickly enough that irked consumers don't feel the need to call customer service.

Businesses can then review their strategies and make adjustments by sending out online surveys through social platforms asking for feedback.

In Frost & Sullivan's recent whitepaper, Enabling Successful Social Media Customer Care, researchers examined how to best use social media in a scenario when a contact center is called.

Researchers first suggest creating a single department responsible for a customer engagement strategy across all media forms. These individuals should be well-versed in the intricacies of social media, because if utilized correctly to engage customers, contact centers can use the channel to generate business development, detect early warning signs of issues and push for efficient communications between marketing and the customer base.

"Public conversations follow a unique set of engagement rules," said Frost & Sullivan principal analyst Michael DeSalles. "It is critical to capture the audience's attention, ensure accuracy and promote and protect the brand."

Monica Tarr, contact center consulting practice strategic products and services director, adds that a successful social media strategy requires a cross-functional team with a deep understanding of customer behavior, social media tools and well-defined goals. It's also important that companies maintain anonymity and security for sensitive information.