It is human tendency to be vocal and expressive about negative comments that we have for anything. While we often choose to keep the positive experience that we had with a brand to ourselves, most of us want to shout out to the world about the negative ones. And with social media, it is easy, faster and can get a huge number of the audience!
A simple tweet can cause a marketing nightmare for an established brand! No matter the negative attention you get is available on social media platforms is detrimental for your business. Negative comments, posts, feedback or reviews, are not that scary if you look at them as an opportunity for improvement. There are countless examples of brands who have capitalized such unwanted situations to their benefit through a clear and well thought social media marketing strategy.
First thing first, understand the problem correctly. Your problem is not the unhappy customers who post negative comments. Every business will have its share of unhappy customers. The problem, however, is “ignoring” them! An irate social media customer can actually be an opportunity to make a lifelong loyal customer.
You can successfully convert “detractors” to loyal fans on social media. How is it possible you ask? Read and follow the steps mentioned below.
1. Listen with an open mind:
It is natural to feel offended and become defensive when you get a negative comment or a post on social media in spite of putting so much effort to ensure you exceed customer expectations. For whatever reasons, this person had an undesired experience with your brand. To get things right, first you need to let go your ego and accept the fact that you can not make every customer who interacts with your brand happy. The person might have had an experience bad enough to get on to social media to share about it. Don’t let their angry tone fuel an emotional response from you which might only worsen the situation.
The most sensible thing to do is to take a back seat and spend some time to investigate and understand what really happened or went wrong. For example, if the customer had the experience at one of your retail outlets, ring them up and understand the issue. Maybe, the salesperson was having a rough day and happened to be rude with this customer or maybe the customer provoked your person to react. Whatever the case is, it is important to know the situation very well in order to take the next steps.
2. Accept and apologize:
Once you have a clarity on the situation and have calmed down from your initial emotional state, you can start by apologizing in public. Whether you agree or not, every customer thinks he is the king and always right. Unfortunately, whoever is at fault, acknowledging the issue is often all it takes to cool down an irate customer. Apologizing to him will be an additional step to mend the relationship further.
3. Work to rectify it:
After apologizing, it is essential to make things right in order to convert this detractor into one of your brand’s promoter. Someone who will not only love your brand but will also tell everyone how great your brand is.
You will have to offer something to the customer for the bad experience he has had. Giving a free product or a discount on the next purchase is ideal. It will also allow the customer to try your product one more time. If that fails, offer a partial or full refund, whether or not he asks for it.
Also, it is important that the customer is informed what have you done to rectify the error and avoid it in future especially if they had offered a specific feedback. This should win the detractor and convey that you care for their feedback. If the detractor comes back to you the second time, go out of your way to ensure this time he has a positive experience with your brand. Get their feedback again and request them to post their recent review on the social media that they earlier used to share the bad experience. This will show anyone reading the feedback on how willing you are to make customers happy.
4. Build the relationship:
Whether they update the review or not, you would want to foster a relationship with this former detractor to fully win them over. Offer them exclusive coupons and discounts. If you can connect on social media, share their updates and respond to them. Your goal is to show that you value them as a customer and as an individual. Few brands go to the trouble, so before you know it, you will have a promoter on your hands!
Besides these steps, following the ones mentioned next will help you further convert a detractor into a promoter or less, a happy customer.
1. Make it human and personal:
However irrational a customer might seem to be, they ultimately want respect. Do not give canned responses to posts especially if it is negative. Saying anything that sounds stilted makes you appear like a government and people don’t react well to it. Train and instruct your employee/s handling your social media accounts to empathize, avoid management-speak and impart their personal commitment to make things right. When a detractor is convinced that he is interacting with a real person who wants to help solve their problem, it immediately calms them down and fades the bitterness.
Also, ensure all the replies from your company account is signed off by the name of the representative. This will not only help to achieve the human touch but also negate a rude impromptu reply from your employees.
2. Be the one to speak:
One of the few things that impress or cools down an irate customer is when he gets attention from the biggies of the company! If someone is really mad, a message or note of apology from the CEO really does help. It tells the customer that someone of importance is paying attention, which in turn sends the message that the customer is important.
3.Monitor the social space for feedback :
Even if you are a small business, make sure you spend time monitoring the digital conversations about your brand and understand the public perception. Remember perception equals to brand.
Smart companies, small and large, also invest heavily in reputation management strategies. They have realized that it only takes five minutes to ruin a reputation they have been building for years. Do not wait for people to @ you. This is your opportunity to surprise and delight unhappy customers. You can do so by addressing their concerns without them having to come to you. If you haven’t already, get a social media listening platform and set up searches for your company name. That way, you will be able to see what people are saying about you whether or not they mention/tag you and proactively initiate a conversation.
4. Do not automatically remove negative comments:
Nothing is all perfect, and people do not trust perfect companies either. Negative reviews show you are human, and your responses show you care about improving your business. If the comment looks like spam, by all means, delete it. But if the comment looks real, look at it as an opportunity to win customers over. You can also send a thoughtful response.
5. Try to take it off social media
If a customer is too irate and monopolizing your page, you may want to encourage them to contact you directly and help guide them to a more appropriate channel for customer service. You can politely ask them to share their phone number or email address. This was you can connect with them directly and help them faster. This will help to take the exchange offline. When you talk to the customer, take the time to answer their questions and sincerely try to help.
6. Respond ASAP:
As per Sprout social, customers have actually come to expect a response within 4 hours. While it is important to take time to understand the issue and reply, a simple prompt response apologizing for the inconvenience and a promise to look into the matter and get back soon with a solution will let the customer know that you are listening and willing to help.
You can also let people on your pages know they should expect a response within a certain amount of time. For example, let them know you won’t be responding before 7 am or after 7 pm. That way, they won’t be waiting for a response at midnight!
Remember, a negative feedback can be hard to swallow and sometimes very emotionally draining to deal with, but if you nurture the customer relationship correctly, detractors can become some of your best promoters.
There is no substitute for great customer service but coupled with a strong social media strategy. Your brand reputation will be well taken care of. Follow these tips when dealing with negative feedback and you will be sure to turn some frowns upside-down!
If you want to know more about how to interact with your consumers, you can check out 8 Interactive Strategic Methods for Interacting with Customers