Ever take a look at the Facebook pages of some of today’s teenagers? It’s… interesting. You could run a successful coat factory with all of the fur that flies between those pages! “She said THIS… He did THAT… I just cannot STAND them!!!”
Thank goodness adults are beyond such behavior.
You can stop laughing now.
You don’t have to be a teenager to understand and experience the outright nastiness that occurs in the ever-growing world of social media. Today’s business owner is particularly familiar with it… and with the havoc it can wreak. Damaged reputation, loss of customers, and even the destruction of the business are some of the catastrophic fruits the words on a Twitter post or Facebook page can bear. Generally these vitriolic comments come from one of two types of people. It is usually either:
• A customer who sought a positive experience with your company, was unsatisfied, and is simply looking to have the issues resolved
• Someone who is not interested in the resolution of an issue, but rather looking to draw you into a public fight
So how do you handle it? When I was young and someone said mean things about me, my mom always told me to ignore them. Just ignore them and they will go away. That may have worked on the playground, but mom’s advice won’t help here. Do NOT ignore the negative comments. This is your opportunity to take lemons and make lemonade by showing how seriously you take customer satisfaction. With the right approach, you can often satisfy an unhappy customer and attract new ones too.
Try these suggestions next time you are faced with negative comments in a social media setting:
1. Be Quick – Do not delay in responding to an unpleasant comment! The longer an unsatisfied customer waits for acknowledgement, the longer they have to stew… making it all the more difficult to rectify a problem that may have been easy to fix had it been addressed promptly. Also remember, if your business has a social media page, it is crucial that it is checked frequently. If a negative comment pops up on your Facebook page, someone will see it first. It’s best if that someone is you.
2. Be Cool – It is so tempting to want to lash out at someone who posts rude, snarky things about your company. It’s like you’ve been slapped in the face! Resist the urge. Breathe. Cool off and approach it calmly, even positively. Reacting in an emotional and negative manner is like throwing gasoline on a fire. It might feel good at first to get your shots in, but don’t be surprised when it blows up in your face.
3. Be Personal – No one is going to feel as though his or her complaint is being taken very seriously with an impersonal, canned, stock response. Any negative comment that shows up on your social media pages needs to be addressed in a personal manner. By using the name of the person posting the message and by using your own name (or the name of the individual who handles your social media) you are demonstrating to the customer (and to all who see your page) your respect for your customers.
4. Be Active – It’s good to be able to quell the customer’s anger, but don’t leave it at that. The person who posts an inflammatory comment needs to know that your company is doing all it can to resolve the conflict. The same goes for any potential customers who are viewing this page. While no reasonable person expects a company to be perfect all of the time, they usually prefer to do business with a company that provides real solutions, not simply lip service.
5. Be Private – While the initial discussion should be handled on the social media site where it originated so that others can see your quick response in the handling of the situation, it is advisable to move the follow-up offline (email, phone calls, etc.) in the interest of the customer’s privacy and your company’s good name. Once you do resolve the situation, don’t hesitate to post about it (or ask your customer to do it) so that other visitors to your page will see that you take customer satisfaction very seriously.
Let’s face it, even in the most well-intentioned and efficiently run business, things will occasionally go wrong and people will be less than satisfied. Some will even get downright mean about it. When handled properly, you can often turn these upsetting situations into learning experiences for your company and opportunities for the growth of your customer base.