This is a guest post courtesy of Kirsten with tips on tackling social media complaints that can affect your business and brand in a negative way.
I’m sure you all remember the Kevin Smith debacle.
Wouldn’t want a repeat, now would we?
Social media is today’s buzzword in the business world, and companies everywhere are eagerly jumping aboard this newest trend in online marketing.
In fact it’s difficult to find any business which doesn’t interact in some way with social media.
Unfortunately, most of us are new to the quick-shifting, unpredictable forum, and aren’t always aware of the danger it involves. As wonderful as the results of social marketing can be, what many don’t realize is that the downsides can be enormously destructive.
One clever criticism posted on a Facebook fan page (or a single well-timed Tweet) has the potential to avalanche into a PR disaster of epic proportions. So don’t underestimate the importance of online damage control. Entire corporations have been bankrupt by criticisms gone viral.
No company is immune; we all get bad reviews no matter how small or large your company is. Here are some tips to deal with complaints you may receive:
Never Suppress or Censor
Few things can discredit your social presence and provoke the ire of your users faster than online censorship. If you have something to hide, you are obviously guilty, right? And being unwilling to tolerate free discussion on your site isn’t exactly a great way to inspire confidence.
So never take down negative comments.
If anything, they lend credibility to your site and show that you are playing fairly. Address all criticisms directly and be prompt, complaints left unanswered show a lack of care or concern by a business, which can come across as arrogance.
You are there to provide a good service and if someone is not happy with what you have provided, you should care enough to make it right.
Be Professional yet Personal
When you are an unhappy customer, there is nothing worse than receiving an impersonal pre-composed response, or even worse a message telling you the company has taken note of your complaint, and will be in touch, yet you hear no more.
Be different, show some care and understanding for your customers and build relationships with them.
They will appreciate the time you have taken to resolve the issue, your other followers will see how well you have handled a complaint, and in some cases, an angry customer can go on to become your no. 1 fan as they have been so impressed by the personal care received.
Plan Your Response
You need to respond in a language that matches the complaint because social media is about engaging with a community. It is a tight rope balance maintaining your professional identity, but as social media channels are more informal and a place to humanize your business you must also embrace this aspect.
You’ll sound distant and impossible to relate to if you always use a stiff collar approach. Complaints are opportunities to connect with your community and demonstrate your customer service strengths.
They can even be spun in marketing strategies! If thousands of viewers ‘liked’ someone’s cheeky criticism of your business, for example, you have an automatic audience awaiting your reply. Will your response provoke more criticism, or will it win round your unhappy customer and also impress other followers?
It’s up to you.
Never retort with aggressive language. Apologize for any inconvenience that might have been caused and then make calm steps to resolve the issue.
A standoff aggressive reply will only aggravate the situation and risk lost custom from your wider public audience.
The aim of social media and business as a whole is to interact with followers and fans, convert them into actual customers which will then hopefully become return customers due to the excellent service you provided. If this chain breaks due to an unhappy customer, simply fix the chain by any means possible.
Make an Offer
You might have resolved a complaint with a customer, but that negativity they incurred might still be associated with your company, and might stop them from ordering with you again.
As a way to attract them back, send a follow up email directly to the customer offering money off their next order or perhaps if a complaint was particularly difficult to resolve, vouchers to try and repair the situation.
The best way to deal with a social network complaint is to avoid getting one in the first place. Post clear instructions prominently on your websites and profiles, directing disgruntled customers to a specific phone number and/or email address.
And actually address their concerns when they do contact you! The only thing worse than a dissatisfied customer, is a dissatisfied customer who is made even angrier by a useless customer service center.
Most importantly, however, don’t neglect legitimate complaints or critiques that you receive online. Address them directly, and take control of the PR situation before it has the chance to grow unmanageable.
Find this post interesting and/or useful? Please share it with your buddies. And feel free to leave any questions or feedback you have in the comments below. BGB doesn’t bite. Usually. 😉