Responding in Private on Social Media is NOT Good Enough.Anita Kirkbride
It’s the advice we’ve all heard often enough…if a customer complains on your social media account, try to take the conversation private as soon as possible and get it resolved. I concur. Some things need to be dealt with privately. Your fans and followers don’t need to see every detail of the conversation back and forth between you and a disappointed customer.
Doing all of your customer service privately is worse.
The Twitter Complaint
I admit it. My worry for my children got the better of me and I ranted on our local school bus transportation provider on Twitter. My elementary-aged girls were 30 minutes late. I wasn’t entirely sure if the bus was late, broken down, crashed somewhere (three snow days recently in a very hilly subdivision), or worse, if the bus had come and gone and they didn’t get off. Not to mention, I felt sorry for any parents that might be waiting outside for their children all that time (I’m lucky, they get off at our driveway and I don’t have to meet them).
At about 25 minutes late I checked their Twitter account. There were a few late buses around the city, but none mentioned in my area. I called the school and was told the last bus was gone and that they had to “double up” with another bus for whatever reason. Ok. Phew. They would be home soon…and they were home a few minutes later.
In between the call to the school and the bus finally arriving, I made the series of complaints via Twitter above. Yeah…I ranted a bit. I still feel my questions are justified.
Never Responding Publically on Twitter
What I saw on the Twitter account was only broadcast tweets. Service interruptions. Cancellations. Road conditions. Late buses. Scrolling down I did not see a single response to anyone. People talk to them all the time. They’re tagged daily. Much of the conversation is complaints by students forced to wait for late buses, out in the freezing winter weather.
I was pleasantly surprised when I received a response to my tweets…IN PRIVATE! Of course they can direct message me as I am following them. The private conversation really resolved nothing, but that’s not my point today. They responded. BUT NONE OF THEIR OTHER FOLLOWERS WILL EVER KNOW!
Yes, they responded.
Yes, it was fairly quick.
Yes, they were professional.
Their other 1203 followers, and anyone looking in from the outside to determine whether or not it’s worth following them, will never know they responded to me. Or to anyone as I assume this is their Twitter policy…to respond in private.
So, looking at mentions of this company, you find tons of complaints and no responses. Would you naturally assume “Oh, they must be responding to all of those complaints privately?” I doubt it. We are much more likely to assume they are ignoring the complaints and queries.
Respond to Complaints in Public, THEN Take it Private
The lesson here, I hope, is that you should always respond to the complaints and feedback publicly first. Keep it brief and professional. THEN try to take the conversation offline if you need to. (Click to tweet this) This way you reassure your other customers, fans, followers, and onlookers that you are responsive. That you’re actually PRESENT on the network. That you’re listening.
Appearances can be deceiving…and that’s not always working in your favour! (Click to tweet this).