While positive customer interactions are always your goal, we get that things sometimes happen. A customer may misinterpret what you’re saying and get even more angry, they may not be interested in being receptive to you, or you may slip and let your frustration get away from you. Before social media, it was easier to move on from these things. That customer may tell their friends and relatives about the unfortunate experience, but direct and widespread evidence was unlikely.
Today, though, business social media pages shine an unprecedented spotlight on customer interactions. Pretty much anyone can interact with your business, and pretty much anyone can see how you respond in those interactions. While your conversations with customers may have had a limited audience in the pre-Facebook days, that is definitely not the case now! Today, let’s go over how to avoid online gaffes that almost always backfire on businesses.
Ignore the impulse to ignore your customers
“No response is the best response” is something I heard quite a bit from businesses even just a few short years ago. The idea was that drawing attention to the negative review or comment only amplified the situation. Ignoring the incident would help it fade away more quickly.
Instead, I encouraged businesses to think of it like this: if this customer was standing in front of you in person complaining about a product or a staff member, then would you turn and walk away without addressing this person? A key element of customer service is attempting to resolve even the thorniest situations, and that extends to what happens online. Your customer may not be directly in front of you, but they are still your customer and it is crucial that you treat them just like you would anyone actually inside your store.
Avoid the CAPS lock button
How often have you received an email or a text message either completely in all caps or with too many words all capitalized? For some, typing in all caps may make it easier to see what they are writing. With others, well, let’s just say they are irritated and want to make sure we know it!
Even if the person has a good reason for using all caps, it nearly 100% of the time reads as shouting. This is a big reason why businesses need to keep from having even one or two words in all caps in online responses. You may think you are only emphasizing a word when striking that CAPS lock button, but if you read that out loud, then your emphasis may sound like yelling. That perceived yelling is enough to cost you business. Just this week, I messaged my trash company over an issue with our recycling bin. Last week they took a trash bag filled with recyclables, and this week they left another bag behind. In one of their responses, the company wrote the word “NOT” exactly like that when saying they would not take bagged recyclables. Because I did not appreciate this yelling, I canceled my account that same day. CAPS lock can hurt your business, so just do not use it in any customer interactions.
Deleting is not always your savior
Have you ever tweeted or posted a status that you later regret? How about a comment on someone else’s post that draws much ire? It happens to the best of us! As frustrating as social media platforms can be, what with their constant layout updates that throw us off-track, all of them make it easy to delete those ill-advised posts and comments.
Still, when posting for your business, you need to act like you do not have the option to erase anything you write. The truth is, you really cannot delete entirely anymore. Thanks to screenshots, deleted responses gain a second life. You cannot count on quick deletions either. Because customers are notified when you respond to them, a few seconds of a comment being live is enough time for them to read and screenshot your words. They can then share that screenshot elsewhere on your business page, or on their personal pages so their friends and family can see what you changed your mind about sharing. Major businesses are ensnared by screenshots too, so pretending deleting is not even an option is the best way to avoid the temptation to write anything questionable when dealing with customers.
Your true audience is bigger than you think (even in private messages)
One thing to keep in mind about all these suggestions is that they share an important quality – any potential customer can see what you write. If you ignore a question posted on your business’ wall, then others see that you failed to engage with it. If you are using all caps when replying to a comment, then they see what looks like a business yelling at a customer. And when someone shares a screenshot of a misjudged comment you tried deleting, then there is no telling how many others now see what you attempted to hide.
This might all sound fairly overwhelming. However, achieving more positive customer interactions online just takes some practice – the same as with any skill. And if you would rather focus on your business and not get bogged down in responding to online comments, then we at YourWriter are here to do the work for you. That way, you can focus on positive customer interactions face-to-face and we can achieve those same results for you online!