By Janette Leon-Speyer and Alison Brown, Web Success Team
Social media interactions can provide your company with a lot of positive reinforcement that can benefit your brand. But along with the good messages, you can get negative feedback as well— it’s just the nature of business. Responding to negative comments on social media platforms can be challenging since they are public forums and the outcomes can be harder to control. But by following just a few key principles, you can successfully manage your online reputation and use these unfortunate circumstances to show your audience that you take customer service seriously and that individual user experiences are important.
Don’t Take Negative Comments Personally
Let’s face it— it’s hard when you’re maintaining a company Facebook or Twitter page and you see a negative comment from someone. As an employee of the company, you may or may not agree with their criticism, but either way, you will probably have some sort of an emotional reaction. It’s important to remember that the negative comment is not reflective of you as a person, even if your company’s name is on the line. You don’t know the other person’s personal circumstance, their experience or the context in which they are making that claim under. It’s important to look at negative comments from a detached perspective otherwise it will become too overwhelming.
Respond Quickly and Make it Personal
The best thing you can do in response to negative comments is to act quickly by getting the situation under control and diffusing the situation. If someone is not happy with your product or service, make it clear that you are also not happy because they haven’t had a positive experience. Be direct and address the problem head on by offering a solution that would be sufficient in mitigating their grievance. Also, the more personal you are the better. People will feel well attended too, and sometimes this can go a long way towards managing a bad situation. Imagine if you received a product that you thought wasn’t up to par. If a company goes out of its way to address you personally and show that they care, you will probably be likely to use their service again because you know the company has integrity despite your negative experience.
Be Honest, Transparent and Polite
Mistakes happen and people get upset, but managing the situation properly can go a long way in terms of preventing a disaster. People will value your brand more if you are honest and transparent. If you make a mistake, offend someone, or don’t come through on an offer you promised, people will be a lot more receptive to honest and transparent answers and reasoning. If you try to avoid the real explanation, people may become weary despite your good intentions. Just be polite and demonstrate exemplary customer service skills and you may be surprised at people’s reactions.
Have a Backup Plan
Of course, there will always be some people who are difficult to handle and won’t accept any answers as a valid excuse. For those situations, it’s always good to have a backup plan. You may have to delete their thread entirely, which could ultimately make them even more upset. In this situation it would probably be best to take the discussion offline or even reach out to them via telephone or direct email if possible. If you can have a one-on-one discussion that’s not in a public forum setting, perhaps they will react differently or you will get a better understanding of where they are coming from. Social media can be hectic, especially with so many platforms nowadays. Just remember to stay calm, act quickly, be polite and have a backup plan. If you follow these rules, you should have no problem maintaining an excellent customer service reputation online.
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