Why the customer has to be right on social media...

Social media is an essential part of the marketing mix – get this wrong and it could cause great harm to a company’s reputation.

Think back to the days when if a customer had a bad meal in a restaurant, or poor service in a shop, they maybe told two or three of their friends and then it was forgotten about.  Nowadays, through the medium of social media, if someone has a bad experience, the details about it and the venue involved can be shared virally across Facebook, Twitter or Instagram in seconds.  Potentially millions of people can learn about that bad experience and the damage can be immediate and last for several years.

That’s why it is really important to have a social media strategy in place to deal with any negative feedback promptly and in an appropriate manner. 

Too often companies make the mistake of:

  • Deleting negative posts
  • Ignoring negative posts
  • Responding in an aggressive or retaliatory manner

Deleting negative posts from your company’s Facebook page can be tempting and in the case of very abusive posts, we would definitely recommend this, however it can aggravate the situation. In some cases they will simply re-post the comment (or worse) and point out that you deleted it the first time!  We usually advise companies to leave the post and respond to it with a direct message that they contact you offline to address the issue.  This demonstrates to other customers that you take complaints seriously and will deal directly with the person to resolve it.

The third approach, responding in an aggressive manner is definitely not recommended and restaurants and hotels can be the worst culprits.  I once looked at staying in a hotel and visited their Facebook page, where they had comments from a guest saying that they were not satisfied with how frequently they tidied the room.  The hotel had responded with a very personal attack on the complainant pointing out several highly critical things about their appearance and stating that this person must never stay there again.  This instantly put me on the side of the complainant and made me keen to avoid this hotel at all costs!

On the business to business side, we worked with a manufacturing company who had an ex-employee who was constantly posting a barrage of abuse on Linkedin that mentioned the company.  The manufacturer asked us how to respond and we advised that they involved their HR department and contacted them directly to set up a meeting.  The employee agreed to a meeting to discuss their grievances and shortly afterwards, the issue was resolved.

It can appear harsh or unfair to receive criticism of a business on social media, but here’s why you must keep lines of communication open in a positive way:

  • If you respond negatively back to someone, even if the criticism is unfounded and untrue, it can make you look like the bully (ie the big organisation takes on the small consumer).
  • Tit-for-tat comments over your Facebook, Linkedin or Twitter pages pages will only seem petty, even if your arguments against a complainant are justified. Any comments that a customer makes, investigate them with staff, if they do prove to be true, then it’s a case of having to learn from them and implement policies which improve your service.  Once implemented, you can post on social media that you have improved your service by carrying out x, y and z, due to customer feedback.
  • Take feedback via social media as a way to help you improve your offering. Too often, we’ve seen companies being overly defensive of their service and not taking on board any criticism.  This can lead to more customers having a poor experience and potentially more bad reviews.

Here at Dragonfly PR our dedicated social media team can devise a ‘crisis’ social media strategy to ensure that negative feedback on any channel, including online sites such as Tripadvisor, is dealt with appropriately.  If you would like our team to create a social media campaign or crisis protocol for 2019, we would be happy to help.  As a dedicated Sheffield-based Public Relations and social media agency, we have extensive experience in working with business to business companies including construction and manufacturing to ensure we can deliver robust, consistent campaigns that meet your business objectives.

For more information, email our team at hello@dragonflypr.co.uk or call 0114 3495345.

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