How to reduce the impact of customer complaints on your business using social media
In this blog I look at how to reduce the number of customer complaints you may receive and how to reduce the impact of any complaints that you may receive.
I show you how to breed loyalty among your audience, how to make your customers feel valued and supported so that if something does go wrong, they are less likely to complain about it.
Buying something, whether it is an item or a service, is no longer a simple case of thinking that we need that ‘thing’, handing over the money and walking away with it. With a huge increase in choice (from toothpaste, to courses, to holidays…) purchasing has now become a complicated process.
Our supermarket shelves are full of hundreds of different versions of similar products which has made our weekly shop has become a quagmire of choice rather than a ‘supermarket swoop’.
What, and when, people purchase involves a host of factors including how that person is feeling at the time, how they discovered the item, how it is presented and packaged and, perhaps more importantly now than ever before, their perception of the company they plan to buy from.
If someone already likes a brand and has a good experience with them before they purchase, they more likely to purchase from that brand. This, I think, we know.
Take this a step further and let’s say that something goes wrong after the purchase: the product doesn’t do what it should, it breaks after a short time or the course, well, just didn’t deliver as the customer expected. That aggrieved customer is much more likely to be forgiving and patient in the complaints process if there had been a good relationship in place before and during the buying journey.
On line relationships should be treated in the same way as those in real life. It takes effort and time to build up a relationship; I cannot understate the value of building up relationships with your audience.
As Victoria Fleming (from Buzztastic Ltd) highlighted recently; the biggest sales transaction many of us perform is asking someone to marry us. Not many of us would consider marrying someone on our first date would we? So how do we expect people to buy our product or service on the first interaction?
Making that time to build strong relationships with your customers should be treated as a life long investment, every relationship with a customer that a brand enters into should be seen as a long lasting one — not just one for that sale but one for future sales too.
So how do you create great relationships with your prospective customers — way before they’ve even considered buying from you?
A) Provide content your audience will want to consume
If you entertain your audience and add relevant value to their feeds, they will already feel closer to you. They will feel a ‘connection’ with your brand. They will also feel that you care about them as you take the trouble to give value in a non-salesy way.
No-one wants to be sold to. People need ‘warming up’ before they commit to a purchase. Don’t interrupt the customer’s journey on their social media feeds but help enhance their journey by your entertaining content.
B) Offer free advice, tips and tricks
Again, your audience will really appreciate you if you take the time to give them advice about your product or service as well as issues surrounding it. Offering ‘tips and tricks’ about how to do social media or information about the different types of wood used to build a shed, or the different ways a child can play with a particular toy, will mean that your audience will spend longer on your page and will place you forefront in their minds when they’re closer to buying. It will also place you as a thought leader in your subject so building a level of trust which your customers need before they buy from you.
C) Be ‘present’ on your social media channels
Consistency is key on social media so if your brand has a constant presence, it allows the relationships to grow more quickly. By regularly popping up in the social media feeds of your audience, they will get to know you better. It’s the ‘know, like and trust’ journey of sales: we know it works and this is an ideal way to use it to great effect.
Social media should be just that: “social”. It shouldn’t just be a one way street of noise (however good that noise is!). Commenting on your audience’s posts will really deepen any relationships. How good do you feel when a brand or an influencer replies to. or comments on, one of your posts? THAT’s how to turn your potential customers into real ones!
E) Find, and join in, relevant conversations
Let’s imagine you’re at a party and you see a group of people talking about an issue or a subject in which you are interested, you’re really keen to join in the conversation so what do you do?
You could hover around the edge and hope someone will notice you and invite you in to the group but what are the chances of this happening? They’re all embroiled in their discussion and probably wouldn’t notice you, let alone take the time to interrupt the chat by engaging with you.
If you’re an introvert, this is potentially a tricky situation but one thing you may do is ask someone you know to introduce you to one person in the group. An extrovert is likely just to announce themselves and get stuck in. Both approaches (if done in a sensitive way), are acceptable.
Let’s take this example to our social media: if you see a thread you’re interested in on twitter, or some comments on a post appearing in your Facebook or Instagram feed: then join in the thread! As long as you post something of value and relevance, your comment will be welcomed in the feed and BOOM!, you’ve established your self/your brand, as an authority in that field and you’ve made some like minded contacts (potential customers?) to boot.
You can, of course, actively seek conversations to follow by doing hashtag searches and social listening but I will cover those in a different blog post.
F) Show the personality behind the brand
Customers no longer want to be treated like they’re in a production line. People want real conversations with real people. Bots have their place when it comes to certain elements of customer service, but any marketing campaign needs to have a real person at the helm to answer those questions which are not in your ‘FAQ’s, or ones that the bot cannot interpret.
Showing a brand’s personality can be done in many ways: one of these is to show a bit of what goes on ‘behind the scenes’. When people see the ‘real’ side of the company, they feel they know the company a little better. By showing your audience the ‘rougher/authentic’ side of the business it humanises your brand. You could show photos and films of ‘backstage’ staff members; the accounts department or the tech team for example. Photos of people unpacking the latest delivery for shipment or where your products come from. There are so many things you can do to present the personality behind your brand, at little cost and effort but which could hugely impact your customer’s loyalty.
So there you have 6 ways you can potentially improve the relationships between yourself and your potential customers. None of these things are expensive or difficult: yes they take an investment of time but if done well, that investment could pay dividends not only in increased sales but in a smoother customer journey before, during, and for a long time after, the sale.
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