We'd all love our social media pages to be filled with positive comments, but in reality, you're going to get negative responses from time to time. Many businesses panic, respond badly, or avoid social media entirely in the hope to avoid situations like these.
The truth is, social media can open businesses up to a world of criticism, but customers are going to talk about your business online, whether you have a social media presence or not.
If you manage social media for your business, follow these 8 simple steps to take control of the situation effectively and, ideally, turn your unhappy customer into a loyal brand advocate.
You can't respond to negative comments if you don't know about them, and while most complaints will come via your Twitter handle or on your Facebook Page, many people don't use these avenues and comment outside of your official properties. It's therefore important to listen to what's being said beyond your Page.
(Screenshot from Brandwatch)
2. Always reply
It can be tempting to ignore a negative comment, but this isn't the solution - it'll make your brand look bad and other customers will see that you're not taking people's feedback seriously.
3. Read it twice
Before racing to respond, make sure you read the message twice. You don't want to have misinterpreted it. Do the same for your response which should be polite, considerate and professional.
4. Reply efficiently
Although it's important to take your time in crafting a suitable response, time is also of the essence. The longer you leave it, the more the complaint can snowball, with other customers joining in. It's therefore important to "nip it in the bud" as quickly as possible. If you don't have an answer straight away, ensure you acknowledge the comment by saying you're looking into it and then get back to them again as soon as you have a solution.
5. Take it offline
If the response is extremely personal or complex, don't be afraid to take it offline. Ask for the customer to email or private message you with their contact information.
6. Own up to your mistakes
If you're the one at fault, make sure you actually own up to it. Don't make excuses. Yes, your supplier may have let you down, or your delivery driver may have been lost, but a customer doesn't want to hear that. A simple sorry is sometimes all the customer is looking for.
However, make sure you see the situation from their perspective and focus on what happened, how it affected them and how you will rectify the situation. Just look at this example from Dave Carroll who had his guitar broken on a United Airlines flight. They refused to take responsibility and so Carroll created a video to name and shame them. The video now has nearly 16 million views and needless to say, after seeing this, United Airlines sat up and took notice.
7. Ignore the trolls
Of course, sometimes you may come across people who just want to cause trouble for your business. If you've provided an honest, genuine and helpful reply, but are still getting negative responses, it may be time to ignore them. Although this isn't the ideal solution, there's no point in fueling the fire and if you've done your best to satisfy them, other customers will also look past this negativity.
8. Make changes
Instead of just fighting fires, make some positive changes. Although you may see a negative comment as a failure, see it has helpful feedback, which you can use to improve your business. Make a note of any negative comments that you receive and ensure you feed them back into the business. This way they can be actioned so you shouldn't see these specific complaints in the future.