Take charge of your reviews!
One of the most paralyzing aspects of using social media is anticipating negative comments. While negative comments are a reality of putting yourself out there online, one thing is true. Customer comments will happen whether you or your business are there or not. Negative and positive comments by customers are nothing new. From standing by the horse and buggy, while visiting with your neighbor about the new blacksmith in town, to rolling dice at the local cafe and discussing the local car dealership, customers talk.
Social media is simply technology that allows people to share information more quickly and easily. Social media also allows people to reach a broad base of connections. Not all comments are bad. In fact, I see more positive than negative. The thing to remember about social media is that it is a shift in how people interact, share information and choose to communicate. Your business already does those things with your customers, so diving into social media simply means you’re willing to listen carefully to your customers and go where they’d like you to go.
“We see more positive reviews than negative!”
Tips for Handling Negative Comments
- Keep your fear in check! Fear will stunt your business and prevent you from opportunities others are seizing right now. Spending all your time fearful of every negative scenario possible, prevents you from moving forward into proper planning and implementation of social marketing that is here to stay.
- Planning is key! Have a social media plan. Don’t wait until a situation arises to decide what to do. Have these discussions now, communicate with all key players at your organization, and have a unified plan.
- Use your small business advantage! Small businesses have a clear advantage when it comes to social media. Small businesses have the opportunity of knowing a greater percentage of their commenters personally and/or having face-to-face conversations with their customers whom they connect with online. It’s difficult for someone to leave a scathing comment, and then swing in later to buy a hammer and a bag of nails. All comments, good or bad, should be an opportunity to connect and deepen your relationship with your customers.
- Give it a little time! If the comment is clearly spam, overly profane, or derogatory you should delete it right away. However, if it’s a legitimate comment, look at it as an opportunity. Don’t respond immediately. Let your initial emotions subside, check your facts (the commenter may have a point), check your social media policy/plan, consult the owner/management, carefully craft a reply, ask for another person’s perspective on the comment and your reply, and pay close attention. Stay with the thread until done.
- Take it offline if possible! When possible, invite the person to call or email you directly. Use private messaging on Facebook, etc. to take a grievance offline that may involve lots of back-and-forth that is hard to manage and corral. However, a public response is important at some point, even if minimal. Lots of people are watching and/or will see how you handle the situation. They will make a buying decision based NOT on the initial negative comment, but by HOW you handle it and effectively resolve the situation.
- Is the customer always right? Whether the person leaving a comment is right or wrong has no bearing on the situation. They are right, for the time being, in their eyes. It’s always an opportunity.
- Eyes and Ears at All Times! Social networking doesn’t sleep. The beauty of social media is its global reach encompassing all time zones and people according to their preferences. That means when your office hours end at 5 pm, your online hours continue representing your business while you go home for supper. The use of smartphones and mobile devices, helps you and your staff be “on” at all times or at least as often as possible. While you can’t spend every waking minute online, you should develop a habit at regular intervals of checking for customer comments that need immediate attention.
- Be selective! Select your social media page admins wisely for they are the face of your company. Your admins will prevent blunders and rectify situations quickly.
- Follow up! Every comment on social media is an opportunity to grow your business. If someone leaves a comment on your blog, share it with your staff. Congratulate those involved in delighting someone so much that they took the time to give you a review, comment on the blog, or invite their friends to like something on Facebook. As a company, discuss negative comments so that you can improve your internal processes, correct your online hurdles, heighten your social presence, and enhance your information and FAQ’s your customers need. One comment online might be that missing piece you don’t realize your business needs to take your customer service up a notch!
Before starting to blog and manage online comments, start a Facebook or Twitter account, or any other social presence, make sure you’re ready for social media and have a plan.
This is an excellent article from Fast Company on “4 Strategies for Handling Negative Comments” so as much good can come out of the feedback as possible.
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