Getting your consumer complaint heard on social media

Collect as much information as you can before reaching out to the company

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — It’s hard to scroll through your Facebook feed or Twitter timeline without seeing somebody complaining about something. But is going on a digital rant the best method to get noticed by a company?

8News went to the experts to explore the most effective ways to reach out when it comes to consumer complaints.

We went to CarMax to check out the company’s Social Garage. It’s a space where a seven-member social care team interacts with customers on Facebook, Twitter and other channels.

social-garageEach month, they engage with 4,000 to 6,000 people. Some are happy, some are mad and some simply have questions.

“Cars end up being people’s babies, you know, so it matters a lot and we realize that,” said Britt Farrar, the company’s social media strategy manager.

“Social media channels are becoming sort of the first stop in terms of sharing experience and asking for help,” she said.

screensFarrar says the team typically gets back to consumers in about an hour. Right now, they’re averaging about 35 minutes for a response.

She says you don’t need to be extreme to catch their eye.

“There’s some people who have seen some of the things that go viral and they think, throw out a complaint and that’s going to get me attention,” said Farrar. “All you have to say is, ‘Hey CarMax, I need help.’”

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Here’s Fararr’s advice for engaging with companies using social media:

  1. Information is Power: Collect as much information as you can before reaching out to the company. The more information you can provide, the better armed the customer care associate will be to help resolve your issue.
  2. Get Connected: Follow/Like Company Social Account: Identify the appropriate social media account and be sure to follow/like. This will allow the customer care associate to communicate with you directly after you make contact.
  3. Stay Calm & Avoid Profanity: Maintaining a respectful tone in your interactions is critical to successfully resolving an issue through social media. This will help keep the conversation in a healthy place and keep the dialogue going.
  4. Be Patient: Allow the customer care associate some time to resolve your issue.
  5. Close the Loop: If you receive a successful resolution, thank the customer care associate. When companies deliver great customer service, they like to hear it. By doing this, you also help to show consumers that the companies social channel is a tool you can successfully use to resolve an issue.

Kendall Morris is CEO and founder of Create Digital. Her team helps make meaningful connections between brands and people — often through social media.

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“It’s changed the game completely,” she said.

Morris says, before social media, brands had a lot more control over their image.

“They were the deciders. They worked with agency partners to determine the story of their brand and put it out to the world through TV or radio or print,” she said. “With social media, it’s really the people and the customers who are defining that story with them.”

cell-phone-close-up3Morris says there are benefits for both the brand and the buyer.

“For customers, that means that if I’m frustrated I can get to a real person who can solve a real problem in a speedy amount of time,” she said. “For a brand, it means I can now hear the voice of my customer in an authentic way.”

Morris says there things to keep in mind:

First, before reaching out, check to see if the brand is even on the platform you’re using. It’s not effective to send out a tweet if the company doesn’t have an active Twitter account.

Second, be clear and direct about your problem. Talk to the person helping you like you would if you were face to face in a store.

Third, make sure you’re accessible to a response. Many times, the company will ask you to “follow” or “like” their page. They’re not trying to hide your problem. Morris says, instead, they want to be able to direct message. That way, they can protect your privacy when asking for more information to solve your problem.

create-digital-1Morris says, while the rules of engaging in social media aren’t set on stone, the medium isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

“It’s here to stay. It’s part of our environment and our culture and we have to embrace it because it’s one of the best, direct ways to reach and listen to the consumers,” she said.

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