By Justin Delos Reyes – Web Success Team
As your company’s social media presence grows, so will the number of complaints and criticisms about your brand, product or service. But that’s OK. Social media is dominated by consumers and reputation management is part of the game.
When you respond to negative comments, a lot of thought must go into it. (Impulsively firing off at the mouth is a bad option). Here are some suggestions on how to respond thoughtfully to critical followers and fans.
Assess the Criticism
After you get over the initial shock that someone said something negative about your brand, the first thing you should do is decide if the criticism is valid. Does the comment expose a weakness in your product or service? Did you actually do something wrong to prompt a negative reaction? Is the comment an honest call for help or clarification? By answering these questions you are taking the first step in maintaining control of your brand’s online reputation.
There will be cases where “trolls” infiltrate your blog or social media accounts. A troll is someone whose comments are intended to elicit negative reactions and discussions. They may also try to sell their product or service as being better than yours by talking negatively about your brand. Trolls, like SPAM, must be dealt with accordingly. Remove their comments, block them from your site (if possible), and prevent them from following / “liking” your page. Focus on people who express genuine concern (and sometimes outrage) about your product or service.
Respond Quickly, Privately and with a Smile
The best way to answer criticism is to do it privately. For example, if a Facebook fan leaves a negative comment on your Page’s wall, send them a message through an admin account. There’s a chance that your discussion will escalate into more negative feedback, and you don’t want your audience to see that.
The first message you send should be sent as soon as possible. Begin by introducing yourself and your role at the company. Mentioning your role is extremely important because people want to know exactly who they’re dealing with. They also want assurance that you are in a position to turn things around. Acknowledge their complaint, show empathy, talk about what you’re doing to resolve the problem, and encourage them to contact you by phone or e-mail if they have any further questions. If possible, give them some type of promotional code, discount, or a free item to encourage them to buy from you again.
After you turn their frown upside down, you need to perform some public quality control. An unsatisfied follower turned satisfied may not go back to your Page and share their awesome customer service experience. Post a brief response to their initial comment and state what you’re doing to correct the problem. If their comment includes false information about your brand, address it in a non-defensive manner and include the facts. Stay cool and be clear in your response because you don’t want anything you say to be misinterpreted by other customers.
Use Negative Feedback to Your Advantage
Do not shy away from or neglect criticism from the people who follow your brand. Embrace it. Constructive criticism may uncover holes in your service, give you an opportunity to improve your product, and give you a chance to showcase your company’s online customer service skills. Social media is a great platform for you to acknowledge criticism because people appreciate brands who openly work to solve problems. Remember, no one is beyond, but it’s the way you respond that will determine your effectiveness in combating negativity.
Handle the Criticism
What has your company done to address negative comments on your social media accounts?