Interacting with Customers on Social Media

woman on phone

Let’s go over the best ways to handle all customer messages on social media – both the happy and unhappy messages.

If your business has a social media page (and it should), there’s no doubt you are already receiving messages and getting comments from customers on the platform. Whether these interactions are in the form of direct messages or submitted as comments on your posts, it’s important to make sure your timely responses are a top priority. Consider this: If someone came into your store with a question, you wouldn’t leave them hanging. Treat all your customers (in-person, on the phone, and online) with the same attention and urgency.

Communication can, unfortunately, get tricky when there’s less context in a situation... like messaging with customers online. There’s more room for misinterpretation without the benefit of being in-person. However, the old adage ‘the customer is always right’ still rings true. And with unhappy clients messaging you online, knowing the best way to deal with the communication is not always straightforward.

Let’s go over the best ways to handle all customer messages on social media – both the happy and unhappy messages. When done well, you just may see your responses lead to free positive press and brand awareness for your business.

Response Rules

Regardless of who the customer is or what they’ve messaged you about, there are several rules we take to heart for responding online. You’ll always want to:

  1. Respond within a 24-hour window.
  2. Thank your customer for the message.
  3. Let them know you care.

If they’ve left a public comment that is negative or warrants a larger response, respond by letting them know you’ll send them a direct message or by providing an email address to better help them.You could also easily be missing messages on your social media accounts. Message requests do not come in the same feed, so be sure you don’t have a backlog of requests from the last year waiting for you! Facebook has a “message requests” thread where all new messages are culled. And Instagram shows “# requests” at the top right corner of messages where you have to accept these requests before you see them to respond – similar to Facebook. Once you ensure you’re not missing a pile of new messages, get into the habit of routinely checking.

Not everyone goes to the messages section to reach out. Customers may also communicate with you through the comments section of your posted content, videos, or images. This can be especially true if the customer is unhappy and they want to make it known to the public. Turn notifications on for all business social platforms to stay on top of client sentiment. Responding past the recommended 24 hours after receiving a message could mean you risk losing them to a competitor – or other potential customers seeing unaddressed negative comments and thinking twice about your reputation as a company worth doing business with. But you’ll want to spread the good news just as much as fixing the issues that come up.

All messages from your customers should be seen as positive. Consider every comment or inquiry an educational opportunity to better serve your target audience.

Unhappy Customers

First of all, it’s important to remember the customer is always right in pretty much every circumstance. Never show your frustration or match someone’s heightened emotions – especially online for all to see. Even if a customer is being unreasonable and you don’t agree with their statement or portrayal of your services, it’s still your duty to respond. Positive word of mouth is the foundation for your continued customer growth, and customers who have paid money to you deserve to hear from you. A negative review could be their next step if a situation with your company is not handled correctly.

What made them unhappy? Whether it is an issue with a product or service, take ownership. Hear them out. Take a breath, and remind yourself that negativity spreads much faster than positive comments. It’s important to apologize for their less than stellar experience and give them the opportunity to fully elaborate on the issue and how they feel by following up.

End on a positive note. Depending on the situation, work out what you would deem to be a practical solution. Sometimes this means you can offer a refund or complementary service or product. Ask them to come in and give you another try. Keep in mind, they could still be a returning customer and working with them to find a solution is key and profitable for your business.

This might be shocking, but you and your business are NOT perfect. Gasp! Perhaps you’ve found a common thread between multiple negative reviews or comments. If you’re receiving the same feedback from multiple people, here’s your sign to fix it. Reflect on your business model and continue to be open to learning from your customers and improving their experiences.

Happy Customers

Ah, the fun customer messages! You may not realize it, but it’s important to follow up with these people too. After all, they took the time to share about their satisfaction – a big ask! Even if it’s just a simple thank you message, take the time to let them know you value their business and their trust. This not only builds that loyalty with you, but it opens communication for any questions or inquiries. You never know where it could lead, but it will at the least build upon positivity.

Customer Questions

On social media, it’s best to handle customer questions in direct messages unless it’s a question you receive often and want others to learn from. Start a new thread if they posted the question on your main feed and get to the bottom of what they need. Again, this is a learning experience for you. Instead of getting frustrated from the same question asked over and over, reframe the situation to ask if there’s a communication gap you should already be filling. It just might lead to a better overall user experience. And it’s still important here to end on a high note. Customer questions may come from a place of frustration, and if left unanswered or they feel the answer is lacking, they may turn elsewhere. Once you’ve presented a solution, ask the customer if they have any additional concerns you can help with.

Don’t overthink it all. As long as you’re creating and maintaining an open line of communication with your clients, they’ll see you’re committed not only to the service you provide, but to them as well.

BeLocal introduces new movers in your area to local favorites. We are here to partner with great local businesses who want to reach their ideal clients and become a trusted name in their community. And if you need assistance navigating the tricky terrain of small business social media marketing, contact our Hyport Digital team.