In the past few months, I’ve gained many clients that have no idea what social media can do for their business when used in the correct way.
One client, in particular, asked this question, “What happens if I get a customer who leaves a bad review?” This had happened to him years before social media when the Better Business Bureau (BBB) was the primary source for keeping track of a business’ standard practices and how they handled customer complaints. This was a time where the BBB acted as a mediator between the business and the disgruntled client.
Today, social media has replaced the BBB. Now, brands must provide a social media manager that understands the brand’s values, mission, and goal for building client relationships.
What was my answer to his question? I told him to use every negative comment as an opportunity to showcase his company’s conflict resolution skills, to openly address the concern with as much compassion as he would expect from his suppliers. I told him to reply as soon as he received the notification, if possible, to let the customer know they were a top priority. And finally, if the situation was resolved, then leave the comment and replies visible to all current and incoming followers, this shows an open and honest relationship between the brand and its customer base. Seeing, reading and understanding the conclusion to a negative comment will build faith in the consumer and what they can expect from you as your customer.
When addressing negative consumer feedback, take care to ask yourself these questions:
- What exactly should you say?
- How quickly should you respond? At what point will you try to move the conversation offline?
- Will you delete the original comment or let it stand?
What should you say?
What to say to a negative comment on social media, your blog, or other review site is entirely dependent on the nature of the comment. A mother who is complaining to Pampers that every tab, on every diaper, in her recent jumbo-sized purchase might be addressed with an apology and an offer to supply a full-value coupon replace the defective package. A person who complains a job they hired your company to do wasn’t completed, then you may offer to send a compliance officer out to speak with you. Either way, you should always approach the consumer with an apology for the inconvenience they experienced as a result of your company or product. Be contrite, be respectful and be willing to hear them out. The customer wants to be heard and the best way to facilitate that is to let them know they aren’t in the wrong. Be prepared to listen and react in a way that will satisfy your customer.
How quickly should you respond? At what point will you try to move the conversation offline?
Your response time is also crucial. Though if your business has standard operating hours and isn’t available around the clock to address complaints left after close of business, then you should respond as soon as your office reopens for business. In other words, responding in real-time is the best policy. In order to gain the trust of your customers, I would refrain from taking the conversation offline unless all your efforts to make-good fail. As long as you resolve to maintain your business / brand image in any reply, the brand value will shine through.
Will you delete the original comment or let it stand?
In regards to the deletion of comments it is important to show your customers how your brand deals with conflict. In this regard, I recommend not removing the comment unless the customer became increasingly agitated and could not be calmed. This is the only time I would recommend removing a comment. In the case where a comment would need to be deleted, I would offer an apology to the remaining consumers and let them know the brand takes every effort and opportunity to address the concerns of their customers. Unfortunately it is not possible to fix every problem and you wish you could have solved this problem. Possibly even apologize for the unexpected interruption in your normal efforts, but reassure your following that you will continue to adhere to your brand’s mission and values to provide the best customer service.
Social media is a widespread medium. Once a comment is placed, it is out there forever. Use your best conflict resolution skills, your best negotiation skills, and keep your brand’s integrity in sharp focus and you’ll do fine.