Being on social media isn’t always easy. Commenters can post rude or hurtful things, especially when it comes to some of the more sensitive topics like politics, childrearing or the ingredients in food. Even though you know this stuff goes on, it’s a different story when negative comments hit your social pages. How do you respond to a customer who had a poor experience at your store? How do you help customers feel better about your brand when you’ve let them down? How do you prevent others from thinking poorly of your business?
The first thing that many businesses want to do when they see a negative comment is a) erase it, b) defend themselves or c) ignore it. It’s natural to feel these ways, especially when you’re trying to protect your business and its reputation. Not to mention, some customers really can be hard to please. But handling negative comments on social media requires special attention, and it’s never a good idea to delete the comment, ignore it or try to defend it in an “I’ll show you” way.
Handling a negative comment starts with taking a deep breath, looking at the situation in an objective manner and coming up with a sensible solution. Here are the steps you should take.
1. Offer an Apology. Brands forget that they can quickly and easily turn a disgruntled customer into a brand evangelist. That’s why it’s important not to shun those who say something unfavorable about your business. Apologize for what happened and let the customer know you hear them.
2. Provide a Solution. You are the face of your company, so never use the “my hands are tied” approach. It’s frustrating for customers when they don’t feel heard. Think about the situation and offer a solution that fixes it such as a refund, an exchange or a discount.
3. Sweeten the Deal. Say your website couldn’t handle the traffic, and it ended up saying that you had a product when you didn’t. Now you have a handful of customers who aren’t getting their product. You can offer an apology and a refund to “fix” the situation, but think about how you can sweeten the pot a bit. A discount or free trial is a nice way to say, “Thanks for bearing with us.”
4. Follow Up. It’s nice to go the extra step and follow up with customers who had a negative experience with your brand. This shouldn’t be too difficult, as you shouldn’t be having these experiences with many. A quick email is a wonderful way to touch base and make sure things are sorted out. It also gives you one last chance to make peace.
You work hard for your customers, so you shouldn’t let them go just because they have something negative to say about your business. While some customers do need to rant about what happened, it is beneficial to look at things objectively. Perhaps some customers do have a point, and you can use their feedback to improve your business.
Kevin Dean, President of WSI Net Advantage...
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