Early in my career, I had the privilege of working with a group of young leaders on strategies for using social media for business. During our lively discussion, they expressed a common concern they hear from new clients: the fear of negative posts on their pages.
In my work, I’ve seen these fears keep businesses from entering the spaces altogether, which is a shame. I’ll be honest here. You can’t control what people post. Negativity happens. My experience is that these posts are rare, but it is still a good idea to arm yourself with a strategy for dealing with them in advance so your first instinct isn’t to delete them. You might also consider developing official rules of engagement for your pages and posting them publicly. For example, posts with foul language, posts that defame, etc will be deleted.
If a negative comment doesn’t break your rules of engagement treat it as an opportunity. Yes, you’re going to feel hurt and angry. Focus. Here’s how to turn your unhappy customer into an advocate.
Listening for online conversations involves monitoring the keywords surrounding your brand name as well as your @mentions and your Facebook comments and visitor posts. Are you using a tool like Google Alerts to monitor keywords to search out conversations that mention your brand across the social spaces? Have you claimed and branded your Google MyBusiness, or your Yelp or Trip Advisor properties, then enabled notifications? If not, you might be missing out on some valuable feedback that’s occurring outside your social media walls. Remember people are more likely to complain among friends instead of reaching out to the brand. Look for those conversations and then develop a strategy for responding and offering assistance.
Respond Quickly and Publicly
Negative posts require an immediate public response. Show how much you value the feedback by responding with a comment that says you hear what they’re saying and you plan to take action. A good rule of thumb is to offer to take the conversation offline if the situation requires customer service action. Tell them to check their inbox for a message from you and then send that message immediately.
When you do connect, act like you care and mean it. Whether publicly or privately, introduce yourself by your first name as the person behind the brand and let them know you are concerned about their experiences and want to help. You’ll find most people respond positively to this. It’s easy to be angry at a faceless logo, but when confronted by an actual person with a name my experience is they become reasonable and willing to cooperate. This is when being human can make or break this interaction. If you want to read my rant on how several large companies failed in being human, read my blog here.
Now that you’ve reached out to offer help, follow up and take action. Involve customer service if necessary and do everything you can to exceed their expectations. If their comments revealed something you need to change, change it. If you made a mistake, fix it. If you can offer a discount or reward for their feedback, offer it. Then thank them for their help in improving your business. Leave them feeling cared for.
Don’t let fear keep you from opportunities to improve your business! Instead, use the social nature of these spaces to develop real relationships with your customers. Careful though – you might just have a brand advocate on your hands now!
Do you have a complaint turned brand advocate story? Share it here with me.