Social Media for Business: Damage Control
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Social media is an aspect that most businesses have opened themselves up to. It’s a fantastic informal environment for businesses to humanize themselves and interact with their fans to gain valuable feedback about their business. While most comments and messages are positive and friendly, on occasion negative feedback will inevitably occur, while this is more likely for larger established brands, no one is immune and it is likely at some point you will be targeted.
Negativity spreads more quickly than positivity. With negative complaints aired in such public forum where items of interest can go viral within an hour, it can be the case that some complaints damage the reputation of a business at a very rapid rate.
Here are a few tips which will help you prepare for social media complaints:
While it can be tempting to simply delete negative comments, it is likely fellow fans have already seen what has been written. By deleting complaints, not only are you likely to antagonise the complainer, but other fans or followers are likely to judge you for fabricating what is displayed on your page. In reality fans will take note of the complaint and eagerly await your response to see how you deal with a complaint. It is how you deal with it which will win over your fans and highlight your good customer service. Show off how polite and helpful you can be, you can actually turn a complaint into a positive situation.
Deal with complaints swiftly. If you do not deal with problems, they are likely to grow, aggravate and cause more damage. If you complain yourself and receive a well written caring response quickly, you are likely to feel as though the business in question cares about your problem and is looking to resolve it for you. This is the type of protocol you need to adopt for your own business and social media pages. Show care, understanding and apologise for any errors and resolve the issue quickly. This will give you a good chance to regain control of the situation.
Some customers choose to complain in an aggressive manor and if you are a small scale business of even a sole trader, it can be difficult not to take negativity personally. No matter what is said, maintain your professional character, do not rise to any offensive language, you have a wide audience watching what is said. Keep a note of what is said through screen shots to keep a record should the complaint escalate and develop to a small claims court level (this is of course very worst case scenario).
By maintaining a polite understanding demeanour, you can help calm the situation down and discuss the complaint sensibly and quickly.
Complaints are likely, no matter how well run your business is, at some point you will find yourself dealing with an unhappy customer, even if their complaint is unfounded. Have a clear procedure in place on your website which can be easily found. Outline what a customer should do if they are unhappy, and provide a direct email address so they can contact you, or better still a telephone number. This means you can deal with complaints in private and resolve any issues.
Rebuild relationships with customers
Sometimes the relationship between customer and business can become frosty. You want each and every customer to leave with a positive experience and spread good feedback to their friends and family. If you have encountered a complaint and the customer is unhappy, of course resolve the complaint quickly, but an offering of vouchers or money off their next order is a great way to repair the damage and encourage a repeat order from them. It also means you gain a second chance to prove yourself to be a good caring business to them.
Be thankful and learn
Some complaints can actually be very helpful for a business. They can help you develop your business further and provide better service in the future. If a customer encounters a fault with a product or some sort of aspect of your ordering process etc, repair it, thank them for highlighting it for you and learn from what is said.
About the author: Kirsten has a background in social media and online business. She works for vouchercloud.com a company devoted to bringing customers top money saving deals.