Do you worry about how to protect the business’ reputation on Social Media? It’s a common concern, since there is less control over what your audience might post, comment or tweet, in a public arena.
Social Media has changed the game of communications, which has now become 2-way & real time, meaning that the customer has more of a voice than ever before. Now any person can initiate a conversation with a business via their social channels. What makes this unsettling for many businesses, is that the conversation may be happening publicly, and on occasion the conversation might have a negative perspective about your business.
While this might seem scary at first, the simple answer is to engage and respond to these comments, where the conversation is taking place – on Social Media.
But let’s get more specific. It's important that you manage the digital footprint of your business, so that if someone was to encounter your business via an old comment, you are seen to be proactive in addressing issues and questions on social media & digital channels. Let’s say a disgruntled customer posts, or tweets, a complaint about their experience with your business/product, how should you handle it? Here are some of my top tips to keep it all under control.
What do you say?
- Firstly RESPOND. It’s really important to acknowledge the comment, and engage in solving the issue.
- Take ownership in the response, e.g. “We’re sorry your experience wasn’t as you had expected. My name is X and I’d really like to help resolve this.”
- Perhaps even thank people for their feedback – “it’s only by receiving this feedback that we can improve our service”.
- Explain what they need to do “Please share your email address or phone number via direct message, I will follow up with you asap.”
What do you do then?
- Consider the solution you’ve worked out with the customer who made the complaint – is there a way to make more people aware of that solution? For example, could you write a blog post or FAQ about what to do if another customer encounters the same issue?
- Go back to the original post/tweet to explain the solution to others, e.g. : “Thanks Jane Doe for your feedback, I’m glad we were able to help you solve this problem. If others are encountering similar issues, feel free to consult this link, or email me at email@example.com
But what if the customer was wrong, and it's not our fault?
Don’t get into a public discussion about that, and do not blame the customer in a public forum – this will not reflect well on your business. You may decide not to comment on the original thread, or you could add something to show you have proactively helped them to work it out: e.g. “Thanks for your feedback, we were glad to help you get to the bottom of the issue, and if you need further help, we’ll be glad to assist.”
But what if the comments are defamatory, inappropriate or abusive?
In this instance you may be best to delete such comments, and you might decide to Block that user. It is worthwhile to consider having a Social Media Policy, which communicates in a clear way that you reserve the right to remove comments which are defamatory, abusive or inappropriate in any way. This policy should be accessible from your social assets, so it’s easily found by your community.
What other things might a Social Media Policy include?
Your Social Media Policy might also provide guidance for employees about how their personal activity on social networks reflects their roles in the business. E.g. should everyone connect their personal LinkedIn presence with a company LinkedIn Page. OR might provide guidance about posts relating to customers/competitors/industry by employees personally.
OK, so we have a negative comments handling process, and a social media policy, is that it?
One final thing is that you need to make sure this is communicated with all of the relevant people. All employees need to be familiar with the Social Media Policy, and at the very least, the community/social media/relevant people need to know the plan for handling negative comments. It needs to be clear and easy to execute with minimum intervention, for the best outcomes.
Have you found other tips to protect your business? I’d love to hear your stories?