Don’t Ignore Customer Complaints and Inquiries

By Roy Barnes, Bob Kelleher

It’s a fact: Customers hate to be ignored. And yet, companies do it all the time. This situation is made worse by the fact that customers now have a seemingly infinite number of channels to contact companies. They call, they text, they email, they snail mail, they post, they tweet, they blog — you name it. Your job is to respond quickly, regardless of which method they use to contact you.

Social media — Facebook, Twitter, and the like — is of particular note here. These days, more than a billion consumers use social media, and that number is only going to grow. Neglecting to communicate using this channel may soon be more harmful to your company’s reputation than ignoring phone calls and emails is today.

Just as you should set a clear and inviolate standard for when a response must be made to a customer inquiry via phone, you should do so for messages received through social media as well. Be aware, however, that customers who communicate with you via social media likely have very high expectations. A recent study by Edison Research revealed that a third of customers who contacted a company through social media channels expected a response within 30 minutes.

For best results, put a specific person or dedicated team in charge of responding to feedback received via social media. This person or team needs to have the authority to decide whether feedback is relevant and deserves a response, and if so, to immediately manage that response until the interaction is complete.

If you receive an inflammatory message, it’s usually best to respond offline if possible. In addition, the resolution of specific problems should definitely be handled offline, out of the public view. When you take a customer concern offline, your response feels more personal to the complaining customer. Even better, it stops the “airing of dirty laundry” for everyone in the online world to see.