Sharing Bad Customer Experiences on Social Media- the Loss of Brand Trust.

According to recent research, nearly one third of consumers will share a bad experience with a company on a public forum, especially social media.

Moreover, the study suggests that the original statistic of 1 in 5 customers who stop trusting a company after experiencing a bad service or product, could actually be larger.  This is because the potential outreach of negative social sharing could be hundreds of thousands, causing a ‘knock-on’ effect to other consumers.

The research was conducted by customer engagement solutions provider Thunderhead.com.  Chief Solutions Officer, Danny Rippon commented: “It's a real challenge [to earn back] trust and loyalty where a disappointed customer is concerned…Sometimes things can go wrong even with your best intentions. As long as you ensure that all communication is timely, relevant and personalized to the individual who had the negative experience, you should still be able to recover the situation."

There are huge advantages for businesses who gain positive reviews through social media, however the consequences can out weigh the good when  customers have something bad to say: especially as one of the large figures found through this study says 25 percent of disappointed/ upset/ angry customers will switch brands completely.

Now consumers have a much more amplified voice, it’s all too large a reach when there is a business reputation on the line.

Tackling the complaints head on:                                                               

So what are the main things to consider when dealing with online customer complaints? Firstly act swiftly; communicating with the customer will show them you are interested in what they have to say and want to resolve the issue, not to mention this is also reflected to the other users watching the on-going interaction.

Apologise. The customer will react to any conversation a lot better if you take ownership of the issue.  A simple sorry can save the reputation of your business.

Thirdly find a solution. Make sure you communicate with the customer to find out what they would like to see happen from your company in order to rectify the situation and what you can do to help achieve this. Finding a solution to this one problem may also help you avoid similar situations at a later date.

And lastly, in this modern age of technology and online interaction, it is all too important to stress a social media strategy plan for when the credibility of your business is on the (on)line. Being able to know where to find a disgruntled customer (forums, social media platforms), how to interact back with them and how to show the wider audience what you are doing to maintain happier relations is all part of embracing this new era of fast-paced technology talk.

While many customer complaints are legitimate and must be addressed, the president and CEO of customer service solutions company Intelicare Direct, Gabriel Bristol, has noted that there are some consumers out there who just want to make a company look bad.

"Some customers want to not only have a voice, but magnify that voice and revel in the notoriety they can gain [from being] vindictive,"

"Companies need a comprehensive social media strategy that ensures all customers are truly heard, regardless of the channel they use, but they also need a strategy for customers who simply want to discredit the company at any cost."

Paul Drew, Marketing Director at Pareto Law advises that these social media strategies are vital when addressing upset customers; the loss of one customer can have a bad effect on a company and it is important to keep brand loyalty.

“We have a manager who monitors the activity on social media feeds; this is vital if we want to act swiftly upon any comment left.  Many times we have received disgruntled customers from another company who switched because of one bad exchange or words, or a poorly produced service.  The vital key is to ensure all communication is effective between all parties to avoid situations like this, but if there are issues, companies need to put the customer first, address the issue, apologise quickly and find an effective solution.”

“By ensuring we communicate effectively with our clients, engage with their comments and are quick to offer help, situations like the social sharing of bad experiences can be avoided.”

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