How to Apologise in the Right Way on Social Media

Editor’s note: In our previous blog, we discussed why it’s important for brands to know the art of apologising and what they should learn from companies like Netflix and Jet blue airways. Continuing with the second part of the same topic, we will discuss how brands must apologise in the right way.

Humour is a universal language. It helps to lighten a tense situation, makes people feel better, and provides an opportunity for a few good laughs.

We have shared instances of how brands like Zomato, Netflix and Philadelphia police have used humour and established fan following on Social media.

However, the challenge of using humour in official communication is to know how and when to use it.

Take the Zomato’s case for instance. The food app is admired for its witty and minimalist ads. However, they recently embarrassed themselves when they responded to a customer complaint in a casual, humorous way.  Clearly, it did not go the way they anticipated.

What happened?

One of the Zomato customers found a dead cockroach in his food. He took to Twitter to express his anger.

Source: Twitter

*The Zomato’s customer care executive replied with, “Hi Siddhartha, Damm! Insects these days they can find their way up past the toughest security. we’ll get this checked and reach out.[1]

The response irked the customer even more.

*Note: The original tweet seems to have been deleted.

Source: Twitter

To which Zomato gave a terse and cold response that they will reach out to him.

 

Source: Twitter

The response did not go well with others too as they found it apathetic.

 

Source: Twitter

What Went Wrong?

In both the responses, Zomato did not apologise to the customer. The first time they tried to lighten the situation but nowhere did they apologise for the abysmal experience. The second time when the customer took objection to the misplaced response, they chose to ignore their fault. It gives the impression that the brand did not consider the sentiments of the customer seriously.

The 3-step Solution

The medium of customer service may have shifted from phone calls to social media, and your brand might be renowned for its humour. However, customer service executives must understand that human emotions remain the same in certain situations. An angry customer will remain angry, irrespective of whether they deal with a youthful consumer brand or a serious business brand. They are hurt, and they deserve an explanation and a solution.

  • So, when a customer is upset, the first step is to apologise for the inconvenience they underwent. In this case, Zomato should have apologised instead of responding with humour. The casual response of Zomato understandably did not go well with the customer.
  • The next step is to understand the problem and address it one-to-one with the customer or provide an update in the same conversation. This will assure the customer that the brand is probing into their problem.
  • The third step is to assure them that you will take the utmost care to avoid such incidents in future. This will encourage the customer to trust you and buy from you again. You can also provide free coupons, discounts or bonus points to open up an opportunity for the customer to buy from you. Zomato, for instance, provides a discount on the next food order in case of late delivery, or cancellation of an order from their end.

Conclusion

How you respond to your customers during a sensitive situation determines your brand image on social media. Train your customer service to empathise and genuinely apologise for the inconvenience instead of responding casually or mechanically. No matter how much you spend on marketing, a bad online reputation can hurt your brand image and even your SEO ranking. So, the response that you give your customer should be aligned with your business values and address the problem of your customer.

Trooya offers customised online response management solutions to help your brand manage its online reputation. You can try our free trial to get acclimatised with it.

Contact us for a free trial.

Written for Trooya by Gayathri Vishwanathan.

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