Category Archives: complaints

How to mess up social media in 5 easy steps!

Unfortunately, too many organisations think that getting involved in social media just means setting up a Facebook and Twitter profile, sitting back and watching it take off.

“That’s the hard work done!” they exclaim – but adopt this attitude at your peril.

In today’s post I’d like to explore five common faux pas that will see your social media strategy sink like a stone.

1) Set up your profile, and ignore it forever

I’m not going to name any housing associations out there guilty of this (you know who you are!) but unfortunately, I see this a lot. (And I mean, a lot.) I really applaud those that take the first big leap in creating a Facebook page, giving their customers and fans a new home to communicate with them. But the truth is if you don’t listen, check in and say hello now and again it’s not very valuable!

2. Ignore your friends 

How rude, right? But again I see this all the time. A friend will make a post and a request for help, but it just sits there unresponded to. In the majority of the time I imagine this is because they have not seen that person’s post – so that’s why it’s so important to develop solid social media monitoring habits so you always catch notice of these calls for support. Because even if you simply didn’t notice a tweet or Facebook post, that person might just assume you don’t care to help.

3. Discourage your employees from representing your company.

Only the Marketing and Communications Team can successfully represent your company, right? Wrong! We allowing all our employees to tweet company content, discuss what they’re working on, or announce special news. It’s very valuable, especially when you’re all-hands-on-deck regarding a specific announcement like our recent 1Future restructure.

4. Moderate, delete and approve posts

There are two valuable benefits that come from allowing free discussion, complaints and content that encourages a response. Firstly you get healthy debate and can work out where things go wrong so you can improve. After all, if you start moderating left, right and centre, your friends will not engage with you.

Secondly, if you start doing this then you miss out on the natural ‘viral effect’ that develops from heavily commented and shared content on Facebook and Twitter. Sure, it’s much easier to post a link, and leave it at that. But the value of that post increases significantly if you say, “Here’s a resource. What do you think? Share with your friends!

5. Give up.

“I’m not getting social media results right now, no one likes me, no one is speaking to me, so clearly it’s useless.”

I would be very cautious if you adopt this attitude. Ask yourself, did you even give it a solid chance? When you go to a business networking event, do you expect to develop strong business relationships with all 50 attendees that very evening? I imagine you understand it will take multiple weeks, perhaps months of meetups before you develop solid relationships with every person. Similarly, it takes lots of commitment and nurturing to develop a successful community through any social network, too.

If you want your social media strategy to succeed remember CATCH:

  • Check in and say hello!
  • Allow posts
  • Tell your staff to get involved
  • Control your posts and you curb debate
  • Have faith!

Does social media provide ‘Value For Money’?

‘Value For Money’ – those three simple words which are so important in these turbulent times. When it comes to social media, a big question you’ll be asked is “Does it provide value for money to your organisation?”

“Yes!” I hear you cry. “It’s free! It definitely provides VFM…”

But is that really the case?

I must admit I struggled with this question when setting up Flagship‘s Facebook and Twitter profiles. Yes, social media channels are free and take literally minutes to set up, but there are so many added costs involved that you do need to consider.

1) Resources

Your time is a cost to your business. Managing social media effectively is a cost – it should not be seen as a role just ‘tacked on’ to your day job. You need to be proactive, to formulate plans, to schedule updates, to react to feedback and sometimes crisis manage. After all, if you set up a Facebook profile you will receive complaints and you will need to implement a process to manage them.

I tend to spend around 2-3 hours a day in managing Flagship’s social media. This involves engaging with followers and friends, writing and updating the website and pointing people to new developments and new content. I work closely with staff in our contact centre (two are appointed to specifically deal with complaints) and am in regular contact with them so they understand what I’m doing on the engagement side, and flag up issues they may not have seen complaint-wise.

I would estimate that social media takes up around 30 hours a week in total across our group – and when you think about it like that it’s virtually a full-time role – something you need to seriously consider if you want to do social media successfully.

2) External fees

As I spoke about in previous posts, advertising Flagship’s Facebook and Twitter profiles has come at a financial cost to us. We designed a poster to display in reception areas and community notice boards, we paid a small fee to set up the ‘F’ and ‘T’ buttons on our website and embedded on email disclaimers. We also have these displayed on company vans and signage… all of these costs do add up.

3) Prize draws and competitions

We have found that holding prize draws when we reach a friend target or a competition specifically for social media friends are extremely popular. These are very small prizes, perhaps £10 or £20 at the most and take the shape of Love2Shop vouchers, but do they provide VFM? Although we only have 700 friends out of 21,000 properties, I would argue that they do…

  • You will get positive feedback from friends who will engage with you
  • You can generate some excellent publicity and advertise this in your tenant newsletters
  • You can use it to demonstrate how many people you can hit with a simple update through the page impressions….after all, sending out 700 letters costs far more than £10!

However, if you plan to go down this route, make sure that as many people know you are holding a prize draw or competition as possible. Also remember to stipulate that it is only for your tenants only – else you could leave yourself open to criticism.

Overall, I do think social media provides value for money. It’s a free and instant way to reach and engage with your tenants, provide them with information and generate some excellent feedback. However, there are costs involved which need to be carefully considered – if you are happy you can assign adequate resources to it and are able to advertise it in ways other than your customer newsletter then go for it!

Complaints, we’ve had a few….

It would come as no surprise to you as a housing association, local authority or company if I said that I knew, with absolute certainty, your customer satisfaction levels are not 100%. In fact, I’d like to go even further and say that getting 100% is an impossible task – sure we strive to achieve it, but all it takes is just one missed call, just one missed message or a missed appointment and you can kiss that 100% goodbye.

However, you can go some way to getting a high customer satisfaction level with your customers who engage with you through social media.

As I wrote in my last post, you will get complaints, and it’s how you deal with those complaints that counts. In this post I’d like to bring your attention to our top five common complaints we get at Flagship Facebook and how we deal with them.

Common complaint #1) No one has called me to sort out my kitchen / bathroom / fence / boiler

Our customers will sometimes complain that they have not been called by our contractors or surveyors with regard to sorting out an issue in their homes. This type of complaint is the perhaps the most common, and perhaps the most helpful to us too – it points to an issue with which we can address with the party responsible directly.

Our reply is often along the lines of: “Hi XXX. I am sorry you have not been called. I have spoken to our XXXX who is aware of the situation and they will contact you to make an appointment to sort out what we need to do to resolve the matter. Thank you.”

Common complaint #2) I am still waiting for window / door / boiler to be replaced

Our customers also complain about being made to wait for work to be carried out in their homes. Depending on the situation (as each is different), it may be because planned work is not taking place in their area, or it could be that their community manager may have ‘dropped the ball’ through human error. In any case, an apology is offered.

Our reply is often along the lines of: “Hello XXXX. Sorry to hear of the difficulties. This should not have happened – I will get this looked into and someone will contact you with a full update. Thank you.”

Common complaint #3) There is rubbish in the garden / drain overflowing / fence knocked down / communal light broken

From time to time our customers complain about something outside of their homes. Nine times out of ten this can be solved with a simple post letting them know that their complaint has been acknowledged, and that that someone will deal with the matter.

Our reply is often along the lines of: “Hello XXXX. Thank you for informing us about this issue – I will log this for you now and your community manager will be in touch with you shortly.”

Common complaint #4) Flagship is rubbish / useless / awful etc…

Yes, the odd personal attack is sometimes posted on our wall and is probably the most feared out of all complaints. Getting to these type of complaints speedily is key – the longer you leave something like this, the more likely other friends are to click ‘like’, join the attack and post another complaint. In order to avoid a snowball effect, time is of the essence.

If the post violates our social media policy, ie it is defamatory, offensive, or names one of our employees by name, we remove it there and then and message the user asking them to refrain from doing so.

If the post is within our policy, whether fair or not, our reply is often along the lines of: “Hi XXXX, I am sorry you feel this way. We always XXXXXX, if you feel we have not treated you fairly please submit a formal complaint on our website, email XXX or write to XXXX. Thank you for your message.”

Common complaint #5) The photo complaint

A new theme emerging on our Flagship Facebook profile is customers uploading photos onto our wall. This has just started to occur within the last two months, and from memory the photos have been of issues such as poor scaffolding work, a neighbour’s messy garden and a damp problem.

Whilst these type of complaints are rare, they raise the interesting debate – should they be allowed? Are customers in effect ‘jumping the queue’ by posting them, trying to force us to act quickly? I’ll talk about this in a future post…

However, our reply to these sort of complaints is along the lines of: “Hello XXX, I am sorry you have had to deal with these problems. I have spoken to your community manager / our surveyor / contractor and you will be contacted <insert time>.”

To sum up..

There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ response to dealing with complaints in public. Depending on what sort of complaint you get should define how you respond, but in general you need to act quickly and aim to get that “Thank you” reply from the person complaining as soon as you can.

As I said in the previous post:

Acknowledge the complaint – don’t ignore it and hope it goes away, or delete it and hope your customer won’t notice…believe me they will!

Apologise if it warrants one! Being humble and admitting your failings shows you are human. We all make mistakes, and learning from them and moving on by way of an apology is key.

Explain what went wrong – if it’s through no fault of your own, let them know you will be dealing with those responsible. If it is your fault, explain how it went wrong.

Tell them what you’re doing about it – even if it’s just to let them know you have logged it. People don’t want to be ignored – the more information you can give the better…

To conclude, dealing with complaints in public should not be something you should lose sleep over. As you can see we’ve managed to whittle the complaints on our wall down to a common five themes. In fact (touch wood) we haven’t had an incident whereby we’ve had to remove a post for being offensive, quite the opposite.

So my message would be to take the hit, take the complaints on the chin and respond positively. Nine times out of ten you’ll get a ‘Thanks’ back…maybe even a compliment from them a few days later….it may not be 100%, but I’d take 90% any day.