Unhappy Customers on Social? 3 Things You Should Know

By Heike Young

By doing a Twitter search, scrolling through comments on your company’s Facebook or Instagram account, or looking at aggregate social listening data, you can eyeball how pleased or disenchanted customers are with your brand.

Unfortunately, a lot of companies place lopsided emphasis on public-facing and promotional social media posts. They forget that the primary goal of a brand presence on social media is to serve customers. This oversight leads to unanswered questions and missed conversion opportunities on social (how soon can this be shipped? will my size ever come back in stock?) and, even worse, unanswered complaints (you sent me the wrong thing; my item arrived broken; I can’t get through to your call center; I’ll never buy from you again).

Unhappy customers on social deserve a reply—and fast. On the latest episode of the Marketing Cloudcast, the marketing podcast from Salesforce, we interviewed Jessica Latimer, Alex & Ani’s senior manager of social media and customer engagement, who’s an expert in these matters. (Alex & Ani is the smart brand behind those popular bangles.) You see, Jessica led an initiative at Alex & Ani to fix the negative customer experiences that customers were sharing on social media. Compare the stats:

  • In the 2013–2014 holiday season, Alex & Ani saw 95% negative and 5% positive sentiment from customers on social.
  • In the 2014–2015 holiday season, Alex & Ani tracked 16% negative and 84% positive sentiment on social—a massive improvement in just one year.
  • This year, they expect to make even greater strides toward complete customer satisfaction.

How’d Alex & Ani do it? That’s what we cover in this episode. Subscribe on iTunes to get it on your podcast-listening device of choice, and get a sneak-peek here.

Ponder these three key takeaways from our interview with Jessica.

1. Your mantra should be no fan left behind.

For Alex & Ani, no tweet or comment is too small for a reply. For example, if someone tweets, “Wow, I adore this bracelet!” their speedy response is “Which color?” or “We love it, too!” The buying journey can transpire at any time, and these micro-moments can help set your company apart from the rest. It’s up to your own social strategy to decide what types of comments might not merit a reply given your audience and goals, but the point is, real people deserve real responses.

2. Detractors are an opportunity to create your best advocates.

Every detractor on social is giving you a chance to turn it around. As Jay Baer puts it: hug your haters. Jay writes, “Complaints indicate pain points that your business needs to address… You and your employees need to look at every individual complaint as an opportunity to create a deeper brand experience than a single purchase or interaction ever could. When you answer all the complaints in every venue, you’ll instill more value in your brand.” That certainly goes for social, where a single bad comment can spread like wildfire in no time.

3. Excellent customer care requires company-wide coordination.

If you’re going to prioritize social customer care—which will eventually pay you back in dividends—you need to get everyone in the company involved. For example, in Alex & Ani’s case, Jessica’s team needs access to data from shipping, the web team, and many more groups to get visibility into customers’ individual cases and ultimately help them. You’ll also need to set hours of social care operation unless you’re online 24 hours a day, and publicize these hours on all of your social accounts.

Jessica recommends asking three questions before trying to reset your social customer care strategy:

  1. Do you have the means to offer digital customer service?
  2. Where will it fall within your organizational structure?
  3. Do you want to maintain separate accounts for customer service?

We dive much deeper into these questions and social-plus-service strategy on the full episode. Get Jessica Latimer’s podcast episode now on iTunes! Tweet @youngheike with marketing questions or topics you’d like to see covered next on the Marketing Cloudcast.

Have you subscribed to the Marketing Cloudcast — the new marketing podcast from Salesforce? Subscribe now on iTunes for a new episode every week.