Yes, the internet and social media are a hot bed for positive and negative interactions. Sadly, the anonymity offered by modern technology can help feed the negative side of things. When your brand experiences negative comments, how is it handled and who takes on the responsibility to compose a professional response?
The answer, select the person on your team who can keep their cool and not get overly emotional when communicating. It’s really difficult when something you’re attached to gets attacked via Facebook, Twitter, or another social media platform. The goal is to diffuse the situation and cause the least amount of damage to your brand’s image. Surprisingly enough, you may find that some seemingly negative situations can be turned into a positive opportunity.
1) Check It Before You Wreck It
Avoid a public back-and-forth argument at all costs. Nobody wants to see a brand duke it out with someone who has a complaint. Every move your brand makes is public, remember that. Before responding directly, cool down for a minute before firing off the first thing on your mind. Sure, you should respond to a situation in a timely manner but avoid making a regrettable misstep and mull over options. Bouncing potential responses off of other team members is also a solid idea.
2) No One “Wins.”
Even if it’s not flattering, acknowledge feedback. Don’t blast them with facts or make them feel attacked, that will just offend and could escalate an already prickly conversation. Reach out and see if there’s a way to turn around their negative feelings. (Did they have a bad experience while visiting one of your franchises? Collect info on when and where. Was your return policy really confusing and upset them? Get specifics.) Acknowledge their opinion and be proactive about the quality feedback you’re getting.
3) Respond Publicly, Then Move Offline.
If your feedback appears on your Facebook Brand Page, compose your first response there. Make sure you respond on the specific platform where the feedback exists. You want other fans and followers to see that you responded quickly and provided quality customer service. Don’t go straight to privately contacting the person, that will lead others to think your brand is ignoring the person completely. After your first public response, you can then move it out of the public eye by providing contact information or asking that the person privately messages your brand’s account.
4) Make it Right.
Yes, I just evoked the words of Canadian home improvement TV host Mike Holmes. He’s right. Some feedback may be off the wall or pure trolling, but some complaints are 100% valid. If a complaint is found to be absolutely correct and real action can be taken, make it right with the person who provided the feedback. You may also share what changes are being implemented to remedy the issue and ensure history doesn’t repeat itself. Sometimes a brand makes mistakes, making moves to improve will only make your brand better and give you “brownie points” for respecting consumer feedback.
5) Feedback is Gold. Hoard It.
Feedback is valuable whether it falls on the positive or negative side of the fence. Having a real, free, and continuous dialogue gives your brand some rich little nuggets to ponder and examine. Sure, it can get overwhelming when you have multiple social media platforms to monitor, but remember that the info you’re receiving is there because someone chose to seek out your brand under their own free will. No money was exchanged to snag their unfiltered opinions. Obviously, if they took the time to give you actionable or thought-provoking feedback, they care. Your brand should keep tabs on all feedback and concentrate on making its products/services better for its target group of consumers.
In conclusion, as long as people exist… there will be opinions shared on every aspect of life. Don’t let negative feedback bum you out or stunt your brand, instead use it as a springboard into brand growth and improvement.