How To Handle Negative Feedback On Social Media
Social Media is a fantastic tool for brands to reach out and engage with their existing and prospective customers on the platforms that they are browsing in their leisure time. One of the best brand-building exercises is to encourage engagement between businesses and their target audiences.
There is another side to Social Media, however, which allows consumers to have their say. The majority of the time, this can be positive and enables users to ask questions, engage with other customers and share consumer-generated content that brands can utilise as part of their marketing content.
Of course, giving customers a voice can also lead to negative feedback being shared, and businesses must respond accordingly before it becomes detrimental to their brand reputation. Firstly, all businesses should have a response strategy in place for any form of engagement or feedback, but especially for the negative ones. Businesses can use a third-party platform to monitor all of their engagements and conduct social listening, or they can assign the task to specific employees.
Timing Is Everything
The longer businesses take to respond to, and rectify, an issue, the more frustrated and angry a customer may become. One negative comment, review or tweet may encourage others to join a conversation and spread the negativity. Businesses need to ensure they respond within a suitable timeframe, ideally to also cover out of hours messages, so as to nip any issues in the bud.
Keep It Public (At First)
All Social Media platforms have a private message facility, so when a customer chooses to complain publicly; they are looking for a reaction. The best thing a business can do is to respond publicly and deal with the feedback to the best of their ability where everyone can see. A public response will also allow other followers to see that the brand is working to resolve the issue.
Suppose you need to ask the user for personal contact details to take the conversation offline or move to a more private environment. In that case, you should encourage them to share these with you in a direct message to protect their private data.
Tone and Consistency
Whether you have a team of one or ten employees responsible for responding to negative (and positive) feedback on Social Media, the tone of voice and response style must be consistent.
When leaving feedback, customers are highly likely to scroll through what others have said about the business to see how their experience compares. If they see a super apologetic response to someone previously and don’t receive the same quality of reply themselves, you are likely to frustrate them further.
The customer is always right remember, especially publicly on Social Media! Businesses must never be tempted to be defensive or standoffish because it won’t paint the brand in a positive light.
Reply To Everything
You may receive negative feedback from the same customer across several channels, for example, on Social Media as well as an email. Even if you deal with the customer and rectify any issues via email, you should still make a point of responding publicly so that your other follows know it’s been dealt with.
Conduct Social Listening
You may find customers are sharing negative feedback across their personal accounts, rather than posting to a business Facebook Page or tagging them in a Tweet, for example. This scenario is almost more dangerous than if they were to share it directly with the business because it means they have very limited visibility and thus control over the situation.
Businesses must conduct Social Listening to ensure they are aware of what their customers are saying about them. Social Listening can be done via third-party platforms, outsourcing to a Social Media Manager or by simply searching for your company name and handles within Social Media platforms.
Brands conducting Social Listening will not only be able to engage with any negative feedback, but they may also learn what customers are looking for from their products or services and how they compare to competitors.
To Delete or Not To Delete?
Some platforms, such as Facebook, give businesses the option to delete comments or hide them from view. It can be tempting to delete negative comments, especially if they’re getting out of hand. However, it’s important to bear in mind that this might spur the customer on to comment again (and again, and again).
The only time it’s somewhat acceptable to remove a comment is if it is using offensive language or terminology such as racist or sexist remarks or revealing sensitive information about an employee. As a brand, you can make it clear that certain posts are completely unacceptable.
In short, brands must factor a response procedure into their Social Media strategy; otherwise, the hard work put into building a trusted and reliable brand reputation could unravel quickly.