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Customers are never evaluating you more thoroughly than when they reach out for support. They’re in their most upset state and are actively looking to find more that’s wrong with your product or service. It is in these critical moments that your agents have the ability to make or break their lifetime loyalty based on just a few responses, and it pays to have a great strategy.

Here are a few ideas for winning them over in the toughest of times.

1. The customer complains publicly not expecting a response

Modern support organizations must go looking for problems to solve. In the support of yesteryear, it was sufficient to sit back and wait for the problems to come to your agents. Companies even hid their support contact information behind FAQs or self-service portals. But no longer. Customers have too many alternatives—as many as half of all customers have switched on account of poor service and an equal number vent by posting about it publicly. If you want to salvage the relationship, your team must be able to both listen and respond.

Answering a social media complaint increases customer advocacy by as much as 25%. – Convince and Convert

Companies using social care platforms that can monitor dark social can solve this with what’s known as proactive social care. The platform employs an algorithm to scan the vast expanse of social media, identify indirect company mentions, and route them to social care agents who can reach out. This surprises and delights the customer and averts churn.

2. The customer complains publicly and expects a response

Public complaints can be viewed as a test of your brand’s willingness to maintain the relationship. Customers who feel slighted, shortchanged, or disappointed want to know if your brand will go the length to make things right. And with a social care platform, that’s precisely what your agents should do. Only, they should first take that public conversation private.

“Ignoring your customers only tells them that you don’t care.” – Jay Baer

Research by Conversocial finds that most consumers prefer resolution over making an ugly public spat. They’re quite happy to be directed to a private social channel which can be done using a social care platform. Tweets can be moved into DMs, Facebook posts can be moved into Messenger, and so on. This allows agents to reduce public exposure and still provide them with the care that they need.

3. The customer has a bad experience but doesn’t complain

What’s the most common scenario for customers who churn? For them to do so silently. The consultancy thinkJar finds that 97 percent of customers who churn do so without complaining, and this is terrible news for customer service teams who will never get a shot at earning their business back. What can your agents do about it? They can prevent this from happening for any other customers.

With surprise and delight campaigns, social agents get ahead of customer complaints by engaging them early. They reach out to perform check-ins, engage in meaningful dialogue, spread goodwill, and create a connection that can carry the relationship through hard times.

4. The customer calls support asking for leeway

Customers who call asking for a deal or discount are often looking for emotional validation as much as they are for dollars-off. They’ve come to feel that they’re not getting treated fairly and want to “win” by securing a concession. But are they bluffing? Is it worth it? That’s an age-old question that social care platforms can finally help answer.

Social care platforms allow brands to track cross-channel customer histories. Through integrations to CRMs and other social services these platforms can instantly show support agents whether this customer has a history of such complaints or if this is a first-time request. And more often than not, it makes sense to err on the side of a discount: Offering customers a small concession can validate their feelings, turn them into advocates, and is often outweighed by the customer’s lifetime value.

5. The customer calls to cancel

When a customer has an issue that is made worse with a high-effort service interaction, that customer is 3.93x more likely to churn than if they had a positive experience. – CEB

Customer support doesn’t become an art until the customer calls to cancel. Luckily, social care offers some advantages. Because it’s a more personal channel and agents are expected to show personality, it’s easy for them to empathize, express concern, and divert the conversation into a dialog about simply hearing the customer out. Often, the customer’s initial objections will give way to deeper objections that have a clear-cut solution, such as something that can be ordered, replaced, or fixed by technical support.

When customers are evaluating you the hardest, your support agents need to be on top of their game. A social care tool can help arm them to proactively prevent issues, to resolve them privately when they arise, and to empathize and connect with customers are who are teetering on the brink of cancellation. This goes a long way to helping customers get the support that they need and is a small price to pay in return for securing their lifetime loyalty.

Have a read of our 5th Definitive Guide and learn how to overcome common social customer care challenges to become a paradigm of effortless, in-the-moment social customer service, at scale.