Valentine’s Day is one of the most important holidays of the year for many flower retailers. Unfortunately online merchants like 1-800-Flowers were stuck dealing with thousands of angry customers after many deliveries didn’t arrive on time this year due to bad weather.
Of course, there’s nothing that could have been done to control the weather, but let’s take a look to see what the companies did in terms of social media engagement with customers and how they might be able to improve in the future.
Have Someone Ready to Respond 24/7
Although some people who didn’t receive their floral orders got help on social media relatively quickly, it seemed there was a much larger percentage of others who were stuck waiting for days after the holiday had passed.
To use social media well during a crisis, it’s crucial to have an adequate number of team members ready to contribute if frustrated customers start flooding your feeds. Otherwise, people will be under the impression no one’s there to help, and will be more likely to keep spreading bad feedback across the Internet.
It’s also a good idea to have multiple methods of contact, especially people who prefer not to use social media. For example, one company that sells auto parts for Ford Mustangs wisely offers customers the choice of getting in touch via live chat, e-mail or phone, plus they have a Facebook page and customer forums.
Don’t Make Promises You Can’t Keep
1-800-Flowers seemed to be in hot water more severely than other floral retailers. One of the reasons might have been related to when a customer spoke to the media about how a service representative from the helpline had offered an “apology arrangement” to try and make amends, but then allegedly took that offer back and instead offered a coupon for future service. As you might have imagined, that particular customer said she has no desire to buy anything from the company again.
Although that interaction took place over a phone line, that doesn’t mean it’s any less potentially damaging to the company’s social media reputation. News travels fast over social media, so it’s important to figure out a plan of action for dealing with any customer who approaches you, and don’t retract offers once they are given. Otherwise, thanks to the efficiency of social media, it could seem like you’re falling into a hole that just keeps getting deeper.
Stay Focused on the Issue at Hand
Some customers were also perturbed when 1-800-Flowers posted a Twitter picture of employees handing out flowers at an airport. That caused someone to respond back, sarcastically remarking how it would have been great if they could have done the same with the flowers he paid for to surprise his wife.
That doesn’t necessarily mean halting all social media communications that aren’t related to the problem you’re facing, but try to keep everything balanced. You don’t want people to see evidence of your company helping some customers, but not others.
These suggestions can easily be adapted whenever you’re facing any sort of crisis across social media. Dealing with people who are angry is never easy but if you know how to use the power of social media to your advantage, it’ll be easier to put the situation in the past without losing followers for life.