As it appeared in the daily nation of May 26th 2015
How do we respond to a customer dissatisfaction posted on social media? Should Social media interactions be managed by PR, marketing or customer service teams? These are queries I often get when interacting with various organizations. Both business executives and those keen on customer interactions are seeking to know what the best approach is. Has your organization thought about these questions? How are social media interactions from dissatisfied customers currently handled? In the recent past we have seen a significant growth in the number of social media interactions from customers across the globe and indeed in Kenya.
Starting off with the later question, I believe it does not really matter who manages the customer interactions as long as it is done well. However, in many organizations the customer service teams are taking the lead in managing such interactions. These teams are often equipped with knowledge and skills on handling customer feedback both positive and negative and perceive complaints as opportunities. They are thus much better placed to manage such interactions. Anyone who has attended my training sessions certainly knows that dealing with customer complaints is a must have. The standard steps work well in complaint management across all customer contact points. These include acknowledging the complaint, apologizing and taking action. This is irrespective of how the complaint was received or the reason why the customer is dissatisfied.
As more and more dissatisfied customers turn to social media the need to take swift action is crucial and the risk of ignoring customer complaints is high. Majority of customers are said to expect social media responses to queries and complaints in less than 60 minutes. In the last few weeks we have witnessed two major social media outcries, both were handled quite differently. The first one was when consumers reacted to the expiry of unused Safaricom Karibu pay minutes, SMS and bundles. A petition was already being signed but the company reacted swiftly with this statement “We hear you! All your existing unused resources will continue to be available for use until they are exhausted”. On the other hand, Nakumatt took 3 days to join a conversation centred on price discrepancy at their store. The customer paid Ksh6 more than the shelf price, soon it was an outcry and #NakumattOnTrial trended on Twitter for hours. Nakumatt’s Managing Director Atul Shah finally responded stating that the alleged price discrepancies were undergoing an audit and any aggrieved shopper should lodge their complaint via email@example.com. Various studies indicate that customers today prefer to tweet or post their complaints online rather that call or email. Organizations must therefore be ready to deal speedily and conclusively with customer complaints via social media.
Smart companies are committed to listening to their customers, meeting their needs and they demonstrate their willingness to learn and improve from complaints. I often advise my clients that before attempting social media presence they need to be very intentional about how to respond to complaints. Embracing complaints and getting to the bottom of the situation has helped many organizations improve.
Lucy Kiruthu is a Management Consultant and Trainer and can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org/old or via twitter @kiruthulucy