Handling Negative Responses from Social Media
Social networking sites have been extremely beneficial to businesses in terms of online marketing and interacting with consumers, but with every good, comes some bad. Sometimes companies will receive negative responses, and unhappy customers are eager to make themselves known. Because of social media's depth of reach, these sorts of reactions could be detrimental to the company's business if not handled properly. However, if the matter is handled with patience and consideration, then that negativity could end up being advantageous for a company.
Before a brand even begins to engage through social networks, a plan should be devised in preparation for any backlash. Set up guidelines that describe what steps should be taken if a negative comment occurs. Decide when those steps should be taken and what can be done or offered to dissatisfied customers to regain their satisfaction. Do not create scripts to be spit out depending on the type of customer complaint, though. People are looking for human support for their problems and will not appreciate a uniform response that is given to everyone. It is also probably wise to create a separate email account for customer service. This decreases the likelihood of missing any complaints, which will certainly be further damaging.
Once your company has a basic schema for its social media crisis communication, it can enter into the social networking realm. Nonetheless, even the most prepared people will come across problems from time to time. So, if and when negative comments arise, be sure to abide by the following rules:
- Be patient and calm. Sometimes what might make sense to you might not come together for the customer. You must remember that you are closer to the situation than them and therefore have a deeper understanding for things. Do not turn upset or let your emotions control the situation. Maintain your professionalism and apologize for any type of inconvenience, no matter what. The public will look kindly upon this.
- Always respond. If you ignore the problem, your company will look like it's also ignoring the problem. You will come off as indifferent or worse, uncaring. Because the negative comment is in a public domain, everyone will be able to monitor your actions. Show respect towards the customer and respond in a way that expresses the company's intention of fixing the problem. Saying something like, "We are sorry to hear about your disappointment and appreciate your feedback. We are doing all we can to remedy the situation" shows your consumers' that you care about your customers and intend on giving them the results they desire.
- Respond as fast as possible. The longer a negative comment lingers in the social media sphere, the more time more people have to see it. Responding in a timely fashion will show the public how dedicated you are to your customer base. Use such services as Google Alerts to monitor your brand name across the web so you know when and where to respond.
- Privately message the unsatisfied customer. After publicly responding through your social media account, you should also privately message the unhappy client when appropriate. Show your customer that your brand would like a more personal and straightforward experience in solving the issue. The customer will be grateful for the extra effort you put in.
- End the thread on a positive note. Whether you talk with the disgruntled customer privately or not, make sure that the original negative comment ends on a high note. Wherever the conversation went in that thread, it is important that the last comment visible to the public be a positive one. In many cases, if the customer has been treated well, they will remove their initial post.
- Ban particularly offensive users. Sometimes consumers are hostile in their reactions and aren't looking for solutions. If your company comes across a destructive user, especially if that person becomes explicit and abusive, then banning that user from interacting with your social accounts is necessary. This last resort action is meant to protect the company under attack as well as its constituents.
Social networking sites create greater obstacles for businesses trying to uphold a positive brand name, but many times negative reviews can help a company out if it is dealt with properly. Turning a customer's bad experience into a good one creates loyal customers that go on to promote your brand. Successfully answering to your business's unfavorable social media responses can also be an opportunity for increasing your customer service and brand dedication edge over your competition.