This article originally appeared on PR Daily in October of 2017.
In today’s world, customer service starts on Twitter.
Instead of waiting on hold for 30 minutes, fighting with an automatic answering service and praying to speak to an actual person, millennials are turning to social media to air their grievances.
It’s more efficient, but your brand is vulnerable.
When you receive negative customer complaints on Twitter, your organization is pushed into the spotlight. How you respond can make all the difference.
Here are three golden rules (and actions) to follow during your next online crisis:
1. Don’t “ghost” your customers.
Your customers are tweeting because they want immediate answers. Hiding from complaints won’t work, because your Twitter activity is public.
If you’re posting your regularly scheduled content, but not responding to your customers, everyone will notice. Ignoring a customer can damage your organization’s reputation, causing the disgruntled customer to turn against you as a hater. (See No. 3 for how to deal with haters and trolls.)
Action : Face your customer head on.
Train your team to respond on all social media channels, keeping responses short and timely.
Customers want to feel acknowledged and will look for a quick response, even something as simple as letting them know you will follow up. Responding within two hours of their post shows you’re listening and present. If a customer wanted to wait three days for a response, they’d send an email.
2. Keep your ego in check.
Stay classy on social media; you are your brand’s voice. Be on your best behavior and check your attitude at the door. Even if the customer is wrong—which they sometimes are—you must maintain composure in this highly public forum.
Action: Be polite and humble.
A simple “thank you” goes a long way. By taking time to appreciate customers for their feedback, you can show customers there’s a human behind your screen.
3. Don’t feed the trolls.
Don’t fuel the fire by continuing negative conversations online for all of your followers to see. Recognize when a customer is picking a fight and will not back down, no matter what you say. Sometimes, you can’t satisfy an angry customer.
Action: Take it offline.
Provide haters with an alternative resource or outlet, such as an email address or phone number where they can contact a member of your team directly.
However, don’t send them to an automated responder or a black-hole email address that no one monitors. Instead, designate a team member to staff the email or phone number to ensure the customer is taken care of and the conversation is no longer public fodder.
Katrina Jakobsze is the social media director at SSPR.