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5 Ways E-Commerce SMBs Can Cool Social Media Complaints

By Richard Adhikari
Jan 6, 2018 5:00 AM PT

As consumers turn to online purchasing, e-businesses face a greater danger of being hit by complaints or negative online reviews on social media sites.

Of the 535 respondents to an online survey ReportLinker conducted last year,

  • 78 percent believed online surveys were somewhat reliable;
  • 59 percent believed online reviews were as trustworthy as reviews provided by friends;
  • 58 percent considered the number of reviews on a site; and
  • 42 percent felt the author's credibility was important.

Following are five ways e-businesses can diminish the impact of negative comments on social media.

1. Be Proactive

"The most important thing an SMB can do ... is be proactive and ready to help [customers] right at the moment they need it," said Linda Crawford, CEO of Helpshift.

Companies must streamline support systems to resolve issues faster and more efficiently, she told the E-Commerce Times. An up-to-date knowledge base enables instant self-service, "but SMBs must also offer channels for customers to communicate directly with support agents to cover all bases."

SMBs should offer robust omnichannel options and prioritize user-friendly channel support, Crawford suggested. These channels "should include self-service and messaging."

2. Make Sure You Respond

"The worst thing a brand can do is not respond at all," cautioned Joshua March, CEO of Conversocial.

"Whether it's because [you] lack the technology or the strategy, the effect is the same," he said. "Customers will leave."

A non-response means 78 percent of customers will "bail on a current transaction or not make an intended purchase," March told the E-Commerce Times, and "52 percent of customers will switch providers."

The public nature of social media makes it critical for e-commerce SMBs to address their customer issues head on, he pointed out.

3. Manage Social Media Traffic

Use automation to prioritize traffic, March recommended. "With some channels, like Twitter, you can use a dispatcher-like functionality -- like Twitter Direct Message -- to qualify in-bound issues to resolve simple inquiries, and only pass more complex queries on to an agent."

Also, e-commerce businesses should prepare for a possible spike in advance by training a new set of dedicated agents or shifting trained agents over from traditional channels, he suggested.

4. Go Offline if You Can

Once a complaint is received, "try and take the conversation offline ... to get the full details," recommended Aaron Weissberger, VP client success and operations at PriceSpider.

Doing so "can prove to be the most effective and personalized approach to properly communicate with aggravated or angry customers," he told the E-Commerce Times. "A back-and-forth online with a customer will do more damage than posting a way for the customer to reach a dedicated support person."

Then return online "to complete the story with a summary of resolving the situation positively for all parties involved," Weissberger said.

5. Deal With Fraud

"There's always a chance of bad actors looking to falsely accuse companies for monetary gain," Weissberger noted. "Diligent managing of social accounts is the easiest way to avoid false claims spiraling out of control."

Don't provide too many details about a situation, he said -- and if worst comes to worst, delete the comment on social media or block the commenter.

Richard Adhikari has been an ECT News Network reporter since 2008. His areas of focus include cybersecurity, mobile technologies, CRM, databases, software development, mainframe and mid-range computing, and application development. He has written and edited for numerous publications, including Information Week and Computerworld. He is the author of two books on client/server technology. Email Richard.

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