One thing that I often say about social media for businesses, is that while it’s not super hard to be good at it, it’s really easy to be bad at it. With the right strategy and time put into it, social media is a great way to engage your audience and attract and retain customers. But things can also quickly go off the rails if you're not careful. The internet has the unique ability to be both instantaneous and forever, and we’ve all witnessed a few major companies have some serious social media fails over the years.
One of the more challenging areas of social media is not really a new problem at all. Negative customer feedback is something all businesses have had to deal with historically. Now, with social media, that feedback is just more public than ever before. Luckily for most small businesses, negative Facebook comments or tweets are something that only happens once in awhile (this is the part where I thank my lucky stars that I don’t run the United airlines twitter account) and not a daily occurrence. With that said, it’s important to know how to handle it ahead of time so that when it does come up you’re prepared to respond appropriately! The exact response will vary on a case-by- case basis but there are a few basic rules for dealing with customer complaints:
1. Don’t delete legitimate feedback or complaints
Just because the customer isn’t physically in your store or on the phone with you, doesn’t mean that you can just make can make them go away with the click of a mouse. If you hide or delete every negative comment or review that you receive it can often do more harm than good. At best, it’ll make you appear inauthentic and like you’re censoring your page. At worst, the person who originally commented will get even more frustrated and spread more negativity via social media or by word-of- mouth. Even if you can’t fix the problem, it’s better to at least acknowledge the complaint.
2. You should respond promptly but you don’t have to respond immediately
It is important to respond in a timely manner (people don’t like being ignored!), but it’s also important to take the time to think about your reply. It’s easy to take criticism of your business personally, especially if you’re an entrepreneur. The last thing you want to do is have a knee-jerk reaction that makes it look like you’re arguing with your customer rather than listening to them. Sometimes if I’m responding to a comment that involves a sensitive subject or a negative comment I’ll run it by a colleague just to get a second set of eyes and make sure my tone comes across the way I want it to.
Also - if you typically don’t monitor your social media over the weekend make sure you clearly communicate that on your profile!
3. Keep it short and sweet
A good response will contain three things: an apology, a indication that their feedback will be considered and passed on to the appropriate person, and an opportunity to take the conversation offline. Ask them to DM you with their contact info, or provide an email/phone number that they can get in touch to talk about their experience.
Your response might win the customer back. It might not. Either way, you will demonstrate what kind of company you are, and that you’re willing to listen and address concerns.
How have you dealt with negative feedback on social media before? Let us know in the comments!