Social media is changing the landscape when it comes to providing customer service. Back in the day, a disgruntled customer would call, a rep would pick up the phone, and even if the issue couldn’t be resolved, it wasn’t a huge deal. You lose one customer, and maybe they tell a few friends and family. Now, one resentful customer can change the entire public’s perception of your brand—thanks to social media.

A consumer who once could only influence the opinion of a few close friends can now have his say in front of 10,000 “friends” on Facebook, Twitter, or some other social site—and for some reason, people believe this complete stranger. People trust online product reviews just as much as the advice of a parent or best friend when it comes to making a purchase.

Social Media: Judged by Your Response

Another big factor in social media is that a consumer can complain directly on your brand’s social media account page. Now, all of your other customers will be judging you based on how you handle the complaint.

  • Will you commit the unforgivable sin of erasing the negative comment and force internet conspiracy nuts to upload all of the screenshots that were inevitably taken as proof?
  • Will you respond in kind and alienate consumers who don’t realize that this one dissatisfied customer is unreasonable?
  • Will you give in and cave to the demands of every unhappy consumer who accosts you on the internet?

There seem to be so many bad options and so few good ones. We suggest taking the high road. Encourage the consumer to direct message you his or her account number/invoice number/etc. and let them know you will “look into it immediately.” This tells your online followers 3 things:

  1. We won’t air our dirty laundry in public.
  2. We will handle customer service issues immediately.
  3. We won’t be rattled and automatically give out free stuff to people who complain in public, so why not just call the customer service line instead of trying to cause trouble.

It’s a simple way to appease consumers and avoid saying something in public that will get passed around faster than the flu. Having the right person at the helm of your social accounts is key in these situations.