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Social media. The ultimate double-edged sword of customer care.
On the one hand, social media provides businesses with a premier location to engage with customers, address emerging problems, and discuss service improvements. On the other hand, social media can be a shaming ground where negative reviews easily go public or even viral.
Although social media gives businesses an incredible amount of agility for customer care, it’s hard to please everybody. No business gets it right 100 percent of the time, and even those that come close can’t account for those misplaced blames.
The bottom line? If you’re a social business (as you should be, in this day and age) you have to know how to handle customer reviews on social media.
Easy enough when things are going well—it doesn’t take much effort to thank customers for good reviews or give them a digital thumbs up for their positivity. No, what you must learn is how to address those negative social media reviews.
Don’t worry; negative reviews aren’t always a bad thing. Look at them as an opportunity to build on your customer relationships. Nothing looks better than a brand that isn’t fazed by a customer’s angry rants, and brands that gracefully handle social media negativity are the brands that build lifetime loyalty in their customers.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the most important principles for keeping you cool when your customers turn up the heat:
The first step in dealing with any crisis is damage control. If a customer brings up a problem on social media, your first priority should be addressing that issue.
Was the problem your business’s fault? Apologize.
Was the problem unrelated to anything your business did? Apologize.
Did your customer actually cause the problem himself and then blame it on you? Apologize twice.
See a pattern here? No matter the situation, your brand will probably end up apologizing. The customer is always right, after all, and negativity spreads like wildfire on social media. According to data by Dimensional Research, 95 percent of respondents who had poor brand experiences told someone about it and were 50 percent more likely to talk about it online than those who had good experiences.
Address your irate patron as fast as possible to prevent further outbursts. You can’t stop the damage that’s already been done, but do what you can to stop the spread.
Having said that, you can’t dig into the real meat of the customer’s problem on a public board. Customer information is privileged, and it should be addressed in a one-on-one discussion. Plus, moving the conversation to a private forum guarantees that any further ranting won’t be visible to other online viewers trying to form an opinion about your brand.
If you’re in food service, this might mean offering comp-ed items or coupons. Retailers may offer special discounts on certain items or replacements for defective merchandise. Service providers can offer discounted services, upgrades to service packages, or complementary gifts.
“Making it right” can take many forms, depending on your industry. What’s important is that you do something to back up your words—and reaffirm for your customers that you value their patronage.
Knowing what not to do is just as important as what you should do. As we said, there’s a right way and a wrong way to handle negative social reviews. Here’s a quick primer of things to avoid at all costs:
Social media is still relatively new in the business world, and plenty of businesses still don’t have the hang of it. Any business leveraging the benefits of social media should know how to handle the pitfalls that it brings. Improper social media management can be worse than no social media presence at all.
When in doubt, always remember the following when handling customer reviews online:
If you keep these three principles in mind, even the worst customer reviews won’t crimp your social media style.
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