When your customers, clients, members, or supporters are upset, it’s one of the best opportunities to show just how committed you are to keeping them happy and to maintaining a relationship with them.
No business or organization is perfect. There are always going to be opportunities for improvement, but dealing with an unhappy customer successfully can often win back their support, and turn a detractor into an advocate. The increased use of social media heightens the importance of effectively dealing with these situations, as all interactions are public for the world to see—for better or worse.
Following are some suggestions for dealing with negative feedback on social media.
- Know what people are saying. You can’t respond if you don’t know what’s being said. Free tools such as NutshellMail and HootSuite can help you stay on top of what people are posting and saying on your Page. Listening online is crucial to hear the good, and the “bad”
- Respond quickly and publicly. If you see a complaint posted on your Facebook Page, don’t ignore it —or worse, delete it. Instead, respond as quickly as possible with a polite message that says “Sorry you’re having a problem,” or “Sorry the experience/meal/product/service wasn’t to your liking,” and a quick offer to help make things better. This shows others you’re listening and that you want to improve the situation.
- Be forthcoming with information. We’ve all heard stories of businesses or organizations poor excuses to explain why something went wrong. Most often, your fans just want the truth. Honesty is always the best policy.
- Don’t fight fire with fire. Whether or not you agree with the feedback received, don’t get defensive or start a debate with the person — especially if the feedback is irrational or insulting. One of the worst things you can do is broadcast a “he said, she said” debate for all to see. Posts on Facebook last longer than you may realize. Some things are just going to be a personal opinion and you can’t change that. Focus on what you can change: the customer experience.
- Take the conversation offline. If you can, offer to get in touch with your dissatisfied customer offline, either through email, phone, or by asking the customer to come in to your place of business to talk with you in person. Obviously, you don’t want to ask the person to broadcast his or her personal info on Facebook, but it’s better to deal with these kinds of issues outside of social media.
One final tip: Just because the situation has been dealt with, don’t delete the original comment. No one wants negative feedback, but leaving documentation of how you handled it can be very helpful. After all, when one of your Facebook fans is unhappy, showing that you’re listening and committed to rectifying the situation can go a long way toward keeping all of your customers happy.