Managing a social media profile (or several) for your company can be incredibly difficult. There is simply no way to control the reactions of your customers, and unfortunately when someone has a problem they aren’t going to call you or write a strongly worded letter to the company. They will likely go straight to your social media presence and vent their frustration for all the world to see.
You want these customers to interact with your social media profiles because this is the new “word of mouth.” Current customers, and their feedback, on your Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn profiles are an invaluable resource to you and to potential customers, but they can also cause damage to your reputation and scare potential customers away.
There are, however, things you can do to keep your company’s reputation and customer relationships strong, in spite of the unavoidable negative comments you will receive. This guide will help you navigate the troubled waters of negative feedback and respond in the best way possible.
The first thing you’ll need to do is create a plan for handling the flow of comments on your social media profiles. You are the link between the customer and the company, so make sure you have a clear protocol in place for managing comments in a timely manner, and getting them to the right people that can correctly address and/or rectify each situation.
Remember that you are working with a community. This community is important for company growth and building strong relationships with current customers, as well as encouraging potential customers to put faith in your company. With that in mind, it’s important to understand that you won’t be able to control the types of comments or reactions you receive, and your goal is to address the complaint and not the tone of the comment itself.
Understanding and Identifying Types of Negative Feedback:
Knowing the types of feedback you’re dealing with is essential in addressing each complaint or comment correctly. This helps you meet the needs of your current customers, thereby maintaining a relationship that is mutually satisfying for everyone involved. It also shows potential customers that you are serious about customer service and satisfaction; something that is vitally important in securing new customers.
- Legitimate Concerns and/or Problems: Sometimes, no matter how amazing your company is, there may be problems outside of your control that create issues for your current customers (for example: technical problems, payment issues, etc.). If these issues are ignored, it discourages potential customers from doing business with you. The customer with a legitimate concern is reaching out for help, and you are often the first point of contact for your company. Responding to these issues quickly, kindly, and efficiently will strengthen your current customer’s faith in your company and encourage the faith of potential customers. They will see that your customers’ concerns are your first priority, and they will be more likely to join your community of customers in the future. Responding correctly to these comments assures your current customers that you care about them, and they are important to your company.
- Helpful Criticism and Critiques: These comments usually touch on something your company could have done better. You’ve disappointed the customer, and they are offering suggestions on how to behave in the future so this doesn’t happen again. This type of negative feedback gives you the valuable information you need to repair and improve the relationships with your current customers, as well as improve your company to strengthen future relationships with potential customers.
- Angry or Hostile Comments: You can’t please everyone. Sometimes, you will have a customer that just isn’t happy, but there doesn’t seem to be anything your company could have done to upset this customer. It may feel like an attack on you or your company. These kinds of comments are sometimes filled with lies and half-truths that the customer feels will strengthen their claims against you. These customers will not be satisfied with any means of reconciliation or rectification on your part, so don’t sweat it. Just focus on helping those customers that want your help. If the comments are especially damaging to your company and full of bogus claims, acknowledging the customers feelings and apologizing for any trouble your company may have caused (while assuring them that the claims are–to the best of the company’s understanding–unwarranted) may be your only option for fixing the problem. Offer a solution if one exists, but don’t worry if there is really nothing you can do. Sometimes, the customer just wants to vent, and you’ll have to be the punching bag for them.
- Spam and Nonsense/Irrelevant Comments: These can range from promotions for other companies, to “chain texts/comments” that clog your feed with ridiculous claims about ghosts seeking revenge for a horrible murder, or even clever artwork made entirely out of common font characters. The best thing to do is delete these comments if they have no valid place within the community and move on as usual.
Understanding the type of feedback you are receiving from your customers is crucial to maintaining a strong social media presence, because your social media profiles are the face of your company on an international platform. It’s who you are in the world today, and it is important to always show a great face.
Better Left Unsaid:
Ideally, you should strive to respond to all customer feedback, especially (in most cases) negative feedback. Unfortunately, there will be times when responding to customer comments will cause more damage than harm to your company’s social media presence. Knowing when to “turn the other cheek” is hard sometimes, but there are a few things to keep in mind when making that decision.
Obviously, legitimate concerns and helpful comments should always, to the best of your ability, receive acknowledgment from the company. You should also make responding to angry claims one of your top priorities, striving to respond to about 90% of such responses. However, if the customer seems to be argumentative, antagonistic, or defiant in your attempts to help, it is probably best to either move the conversation to a more private platform or, in the worst situations, just ignore the comment entirely. These kinds of customers are sometimes referred to as “trolls” and they seem intent on only one thing: destroying your company’s good name just because they are having a bad day (or sometimes, they’re just seemingly bored and upset about it).
Be Active in the Community:
You are a vital part of your company’s customer community. Remember that sometimes things will go wrong. Sometimes it will be your company’s fault, and other times it may not be your company’s fault but the customer will insist that your company is to blame. Be patient, and continue to smile your company through it. You have the unique opportunity to influence the customers by how you respond to their complaints. Offering up a solution, making appropriate changes if necessary, and working with your customers will ensure that your customer community continues to be an asset to current and potential customers as well as your company.
Giving Them a Chance:
At times, it might be more to your advantage to let your customers speak for themselves. If you’ve built a strong community of current customers, there’s a good chance your community will speak for itself against negative comments. Letting too much time go by or allowing too many negative comments in one conversation is probably a terrible mistake. However, allowing your customers to speak for themselves is a great way to show potential customers that your current customers are satisfied with the company and what they are provided by it. Allowing these things to work themselves out is sometimes the best option, so when you see the opportunity present itself, sit back and bask in the glow of a happy and strong community.
Behind Closed Doors:
As stated before, sometimes the only option is to take the conversation to a more private arena. If the messages from your disgruntled customers become too hostile, offensive, or inappropriate, you may need to shoot the customer a DM or a Facebook message to ask them how you can help heal the relationship between them and your company. Not all of your current clients want to watch a heated battle between you and your angry customer, so knowing when to “close the curtains” or call it quits is key.
You won’t keep everyone happy all the time, online or off line. Remember that you can’t please the whole world, so just try your best and don’t stress over any unresolved issues. As long as you put forth the required amount of effort to solve them, those unresolved issues shouldn’t cause you to lose any sleep. Understand the customers and their needs, respond in the most appropriate and helpful way, and continue improving as you move along. There isn’t much more you can do beyond this, but these strategies will create a solid foundation for your social media presence.