Despite all our best intentions and earnest efforts sometimes we can't always provide the best experience to our customers. So there will be times when they are unhappy. 

Sometimes a customer just wants to be heard. When they are frustrated, upset, bitter they want everyone to know about it. And what better, public way to show their discontentment than on Social Media.

I remember learning a statistic in my college Marketing Class, a satisfied customer will tell 2-3 people about their experience, where as a dissatisfied customer will tell 8-10. That statistic originated before the internet took hold, where Social Media and internet ratings now abound. Today a bad experience can be shared with hundreds and even thousands literally overnight. 

Chances are you are already using Social Media for marketing purposes (if not you should consider this too). If you have Social Media, an irate customer will have the opportunity to voice their complaint right on your wall or page. 

"Why the heck would I want other people to see the complaints from my unhappy customers?" 

If you're not on the web your clients are still going to complain regardless, but you won't know about it, and are helpless to stop the bad publicity. But, if you give your clients a place to voice their concerns, it shows you're listening. And better yet, if you respond in a positive way that resolves their problem it shows you care. Not only does the unhappy client feel satisfied but now all your social followers can see that you have active customer support that truly cares about their needs. Solve a problem and gain a more loyal following, all in one-shot. Now that's powerful. 

The good news is 80% of those who complain typically comeback if they feel that you resolve their concern. The stats trend even higher, if they are tended to faster. All the more reason to leverage Social Media which offers instantaneous feedback.

55% of customers indicate they would pay extra to guarantee a better service experience (deFacto research). Afterall, that's why people are attracted to small businesses, they offer the type of service that big companies can't or simply won't provide. It's our value differentiator. Social Media can help us amplify this value-add.

55% of customers indicate they would pay extra to guarantee a better service experience
— deFacto Research

Ultimately, if you don't provide these opportunities for customers to be heard you may never know there is an issue at all and you may simply lose them as a customer without even knowing about it. 96% of unhappy customers don’t complain, however 91% of those will simply leave and never come back (1st Financial Training services).

A customer is 4 times more likely to defect to a competitor if the problem is service-related than price or product-related (Bain & Company). Also a good reason to improve customer service. It costs so much more to gain a new customer than to keep a customer

More than just an avenue for venting, you can give your customers an opportunity to communicate with each other, and ultimately support each other. They can share experiences, tips and tricks on how to solve common problems, or get the most out of your product or service. In essence, they do the customer service work for you.

Don't feel overwhelmed by adding Social Media under your customer service umbrella, there is technology such as Salesforce Service Cloud that will help you coordinate your customer service efforts across various Social Media Channels.

Social Media (multiple services are better, but have at least one) should be added to your arsenal but you shouldn't negate other customer service avenues: website, dedicated phone line, email, etc. Give customers as many avenues to reach you as possible. As your customer base shifts to a more internet and Social Media minded demographic, expect to see more customer service issues come in through that channel.

Additional Reading:
Reasons You Need to be Using Social Media as Your Customer Service Portal

How to Serve Your Customers on Social Media

5 Brands that won at Social Media in 2013

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