With an increased focus on social media marketing and social sharing, companies have begun to bask in the glory of attention, free marketing & increased sales. However, social media marketing also has its flipside, just like everything else in this life. Customers can post negative criticism and complaints against your company, for everyone else to read. This will eventually hurt your brand image and sales in the short & long terms.
Why you must handle negative comments and complaints intelligently
While most of the complaints maybe genuine (providing you with an opportunity to fix your issues), some of the complaints maybe downright nasty. Without dwelling on whether the complaints are true or false, you need to have a social media complaint handling policy in place. So, what would you do in order to make sure that unfair complaints are reduced online? There is a lot that a company can do in order to weed out complaints that are malicious and libelous in nature. There is also a lot that a company can do to fix legitimate complaints that customers usually make. In this article, let us take a look at how a company can reduce these complaints in order to improve brand image and goodwill.
You must act fast
There was a time when negative complaints only went so far. If a customer was not satisfied with what you offer, he or she might have complained to 10 people. You probably had to lose those 10 prospective clients/customers. Now, thanks to social media, a single complaint can reach far and wide, across the world, to thousands of people. This is a scenario that one cannot take lightly. With that in mind, each negative complaint must be handled quickly and efficiently.
Understand who is most likely to complain
A recent study found that younger customers tend to complain more on social networking sites. Those who are aged between 18 and 24 tend to complain on Twitter and Facebook more often than their older peers. These negative complaints maybe genuine or malicious but they will indeed mar your image online and can hurt your sales. The onus is on you to make sure that negativity is handled with care and that all complaints are resolved, even if it seems irrational to you.
Assign somebody to handle complaints
It is a good idea to hire someone to handle complaints exclusively. This person might post under your company’s profile or he/she can use their name to resolve complaints. We believe that it is a good idea to receive complaints under the company page or profile but when complaints are very negative, you might want an individual to respond to those complaints. It not only looks like you care but the very fact that a human is responding to a complaint will resolve a lot of conflict between you and your customer.
Complaint handling policy
The next step is for you to decide how you will approach complaints. No matter how nasty the complaint is, make sure that you maintain your grace. Do not lose your temper online or sound haughty, which will affect your further sales with other people. Humility and sincere concern for the complaint will go a long way but arrogance will hurt you more than the complaint will ever.
Communicating availability to customers
When a customer posts complaints on Facebook or Twitter, they are mostly unable to reach you immediately. When you respond, be polite and offer to call them back or if that is not possible, ask them to send you a private message with their contact details so that you can get in touch. When customers learn that you are available to listen to their grievances, they will not usually post their complaints again and elsewhere. This reduces the chances of complaints being reposted unnecessarily. Of course, make sure that you get in touch with the person immediately and resolve his or her issues.
Resolve issues on social media
Whenever there is a complaint written on your official page, treat it as a PR opportunity. Ensure that you mention that a certain complaint is resolved and they could get in touch with you over phone or email, if issues persist. The idea is to let everyone know that you handled the complaint positively and that you resolved the issue.
Do not provoke trolls
When it comes to social media, you can always expect trolls to bother you, with repeated complaints and requests. Trolls usually seek attention and sometimes they like the other person to respond no matter what. Respond politely and reassure that the problem has been fixed. If you need to repost the response, that is perfectly ok. Most people understand when someone is being a troll.
Do not ignore even the smallest of complaints
No matter how trivial a complaint sounds, do not ignore it. That can cause your downfall. Instead, fix even the most trivial issue and attend to complaints as soon as possible. Do not let a complaint remain not responded on social networking sites as that implies that you don’t care. Sometimes people need a small reason to get angry. It is your business duty to save your company and that means, sometimes having to be nice to even the most unfair of customers. As long as you solve problems, you should not really worry about anything else.
Encourage positive reviews
Ask your customers to post positive reviews if they are happy with your products and services. Get people to write reviews, leave comments and spread some goodwill about your company. That helps to reduce negativity and builds positive image about your company. These customers act as brand ambassadors who do not even need to be paid and they genuinely spread goodwill.
Create an HR policy
Make sure that you have an HR policy in place so that your ex-employees do not speak ill about your company; legal help maybe necessary to draft such a policy. Make it clear to your employees from day 1 that they should not engage in libelous behavior. Sharing confidential information or spreading gossips and rumors can affect your company more than anything else.
Competitions and loyalty contests
When it comes to spreading goodwill, you will need to make sure that you run competitions as well. Winners always have a high regard for those who gave them prizes. Thus, make sure that you often give away prizes, discounts and freebies to people who are being positive about you and your company. Such actions can increase goodwill among people and help spread a positive image about your company.
It is not recommended to pursue legal cases against customers who may post unfair complaints, maliciously or otherwise. You might want to seek assistance only if things go out of hand and that is very rare. We believe there is always a way to handle issues that escalate or go out of hand. Legal wrangling is unnecessary, expensive and is not the best PR exercise if you want to build goodwill on social platforms. Everyone knows that there are elements that seek trouble. Sometimes, it is best to just ignore and take the high path.
Catch complaints before they happen
Whenever possible, try and ensure your customers are happy. That way, there is no room for complaints. You need to remember that people would complain only when they are not happy with your services or products; be on guard and ensure that the customer leaves your online or offline space happily. By making sure that you are delivering what you promise, you will ensure that all the customers are happy and there will be no room for complaints.
By making sure that there is no need for complaints, you might think that you have taken care of everything. However, business is such that in spite of taking care of everything, there will still be people unhappy about the products or services they were sold into. When they write complaints on social media, go through our checklist above and ensure that the complaints are resolved as soon as possible. Also ensure that you apologize and give something more to go back with like a gift or a discount. That helps to build goodwill for your company. All said and done, always be humble and polite. Efficiency with a smile is what we all need.