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How IKEA used social media to turn a complaining customer into a company advocate

Social media is being used increasingly by businesses keen to share company information, news, and details on products or services. It’s also a very convenient way for customers to get in contact with an enquiry, a thank you or a complaint.

The threat of negative comment can make business owners nervous about social media but, as this example shows, you can turn it around and demonstrate excellent customer service, turning a complaint into a compliment.

When I moved into my flat, my IKEA wardrobe was delivered and my husband and I set to work putting the flat pack together. Taking a step back to look at our handywork later on, we discovered a large chip in the wardrobe, right at the front and centre.

It was annoying to say the least, so being the typical millennial that I am, I was straight on Twitter to ask what they could do about it.

Within minutes I had a response and was offered the choice of two solutions: an exchange of the damaged item or a damage discount. Opting for the damage discount, they informed me a part-refund would be in my bank account within seven working days, and true to their word the money appeared a few days later.

I’ve since told many people how fantastic IKEA’s customer service is (here I am doing it again!) and we all know how valuable word-of-mouth recommendations are. They took responsibility for the problem, worked with me to decide how to fix it and followed through with the actions they said they would.

Even if your complaint isn’t as simple as a dented wardrobe, the same principals should apply. Work with the customer to find a solution that suits you both and always deliver on what you say you’re going to do.

You might have an in-house team dedicated to handling your online presence or perhaps you have agency support. However you operate, here is our eight-point plan of what to consider when managing your reputation online.

1) Company guidelines – Ensure you have a coherent set of company guidelines in place detailing how you will respond to and engage with comments, both positive and negative.

2) Consistent style – Establish your tone of voice and style.

3) Roles and responsibilities – Ensure everyone knows what they are responsible for to avoid someone assuming another colleague has dealt with it.

4) Know your processes – Anyone managing the profile must know the specific customer service processes for your company inside out and know which comments you respond to online, what might be solved in a private message and which should be passed to the customer service team to look into further.

5) Be timely – Ensure everyone with a customer facing role online understands the importance of responding to posts in a timely, honest and helpful way.

6) Apologise for genuine mistakes – If the company has made a genuine mistake or an error, apologise to the customer and make sure you know the steps to take to rectify the situation and who this involves.

7) Thank your happy customers – If you get positive feedback, be sure to take the time to thank them for spending their time to share their thoughts.

8) Know when to take it higher – For more serious complaints, the social media team or customer service department might not be best placed to deal with it. On occasion, you may encounter potentially libellous comments or posts and you should consider if this is an issue to be escalated to senior management team or even a lawyer. Social media is an excellent tool for quickly responding to your audience in this always-on age, but there are some things a tweet just can’t solve and you should be unafraid to seek advice elsewhere when needed.

Managing your company’s reputation online might seem like a daunting task, but with the right plans in place social and digital media can be powerful customer service tools.

If you’re looking for a team to support you, give us a call on 01392 466733 to discuss how we could work together.