HOW TO DEAL WITH COMPLAINTS ON SOCIAL MEDIA, A GUIDE FOR SMALL BUSINESSES
As a small business, you may not be able to please 100% of your customers all the time. For whatever reason, you’ve found a bad review or comment on one of your social media channels. The question is, how do you deal with it in a way that could attract customers rather than turn them away? We manage a variety of social media channels in a wide range of different industries, so understanding how to deal with problematic comments and reviews can be tricky. Here are some of our top tips on how to deal with customer negativity on social media.
Always be professional
It can be quite easy to want to protect your small business when someone says something unflattering about it. We’re human, and behind every business is someone trying their hardest to make it work. Because of that, it is all too easy to jump behind a keyboard and start to pen a protective post to try and defend your business at all costs. However, our number one piece of advice would be to always remain professional.
It’s good to have a basic strategy in place for communicating your business and brand (check out this awesome article from Hubspot on creating a social media communication strategy). Dealing with negative comments on a public forum needs a different approach. Remaining professional and approachable in tone can help to diffuse the situation. A copy and paste response to a complaint will leave the complainer and potential future customers realising that you aren’t listening or addressing the issues.
Being proactive and moving to solve the issue quickly can help limit the customers discontent. Usually try to respond within an hour, even if you acknowledge that you will be looking into the complaint. This shows the customer that you’ve heard their issues and even if you don’t have the solution to hand, you’ll be back soon with one.
Is it a valid complaint?
Sometimes, if a customer is unsatisfied, they will go straight to social media or another public forum to vent their opinions. Although this isn’t ideal, it’s good to see if there are recurring issues that keep cropping up. SuperOffice said that “A customer complaint highlights a problem, whether that’s a problem with your product, employees or internal processes, and by hearing these problems directly from your customers, you can investigate and improve to prevent further complaints in the future”.
If a customer complaint is valid, it is important that you let the customer know that their feedback has been noted. This then gives you an opportunity to say that you’re thankful for bringing it to your attention so that you can do something about it. By doing this, the customer feels like that they’ve been listened to, and you’ve also learned what upset the customer so you can help to prevent it happening again.
Acknowledge the issue
The classic phrase “the customers always right” may grate on most small business owners, but without them, we wouldn’t get very far. It is important to understand why they’ve complained. It’s important to acknowledge the issue if there is one and make the customer feel heard. If you’re in the wrong, admitting this and offering a solution will show future customers that even though you’ve got it wrong on this occasion, you’re proactive with your customer service and you’re offering to put it right.
If a mistake has been made, honesty is usually is the best policy. Be transparent, be honest and do everything in your power to fix the situation right away.
Take it outside…
Don’t be afraid to respond to the customer directly, offering to discuss this offline and in person. This can stop a lot of back and forth trying to reach a suitable outcome. All communications on social media are in the public domain, and there is nothing to stop other people joining in the conversation.
Give the customer a personal contact, so they can discuss their complaint with you directly. This will show the customer that you’re wanting to hear their complaint and try to reach a resolution. It shows future customers that as a business, you’re pro-active with customers, and if they have issues, you’re keen to sort it out.
This may not be relevant to all our readers, but if you’ve fixed the issue with your customer and they are satisfied with the resolution, then it could be an idea to follow up and check if they’re enjoying your product or service. Communication is key, and it’s also a good way to gather feedback about their overall experience with your business.
In summary, always remain professional, be quick to respond and make the customer feel like their complaint is being heard. It’s important to not take the complaint personally and use it as an opportunity to make changes for the better if the complaint is valid. There is no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to responding to complaints, but hopefully these tips will make things a little bit easier for you.
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