"Social media is the best thing that has happened to customer service, because if you're good at it, it can build your reputation for quality fast," says David Atherton, head of customer AO.com.
This week a lot of organisations are coming together to raise awareness of how people behave on the internet. Whilst most of these organisations are focusing on online bullying, we're going to look at how negative social media interactions can affect businesses and what measures you can take to help.
In June last year a study carried out by igniyte found that more than half of businesses had suffered due to negative online comments. In 2015 there is no excuse for your online business not to be on social media. It's just a case of preparing yourself for negative feedback and knowing what to do when it happens.
Firstly you must ensure that your business is properly set up on social media. This will make responding to feedback as smooth and painless as possible.
- Choose the right social media channel for your business. Do your research. Check the platform you choose is suitable for your target audience. See our previous post for more information.
- Make sure you're using the right tone. This also related back to your target audience. For example if you're running a solicitors you might want to stay away from informal, overly friendly posts. However, if you're running a fun kids crafts workshop you can be much more light hearted and jovial.
- Create an FAQs section of your page. This will help with any common queries customers might have and could solve problems before they arise.
- Heavily monitor your accounts. It might seem like a daunting task but having one or two members of your team keeping a close eye on social media can pay off. You might also want to think about outsourcing social media management.
Putting these simple measures in place will make dealing with any negative comments more straightforward. But, what should you do when you do receive negative comments?
React to negative comments
- Firstly, read the comment carefully - This might sound so simple it's silly, but it is crucial. Analyse the comment, what is the cause of the negativity? How can you help?
- Take a screenshot - Whatever the nature of the negativity it may be useful to keep a record of it. This means you can easily share it with any relevant co-worker or keep it for training purposes in the future.
- Don't delete it (or, only sometimes delete it) - It pays to be as transparent as possible. An account with only positive feedback is suspicious, whereas an account with positive and negative feedback (that has been successfully dealt with) is much more realistic. This does not apply for offensive, derogatory or mindless comments. Try your best not to indulge "trolls" whose only aim is to annoy you and your valued customers.
- Respond quickly - An hour in the social media world is a very long time. Try to have some response to an issue as soon as you can. Remember, even if you can't sort it then and there an apology goes a very long way.
- Don't just make excuses - Customers aren't necessarily interested in why the problem happened, they want solutions to it. If you can't answer a query find someone who can.
- Keep your cool - Remember good customer service still exists online, even if the complaints aren't always polite. Don't say anything that you wouldn't say in a face to face conversation.
- Be consistent - For example, don't switch between email and Facebook.
- Be human not corporate - Social media has the benefit of feeling a lot more casual than via email. This means you're free to inject a bit of personality into the dialogue. However, keep in mind the tone of the original comment, try to stay in keeping with your customer.
- Try and make the outcome positive - If you can, go above and beyond. This could be a great chance for some publicity. If a customer has made a complaint on social media it is public. If you respond efficiently, kindly and promptly other people will see the high standard of customer service your business has.