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Tricky business: 10 tips on dealing with criticism on social media

06/10/2014 | Simon Mobey

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Previously in this blog we’ve discussed the many virtues of using social media to promote your business and the importance of interacting openly with customers in these channels. 

Most of the time this engagement will be convivial and rewarded with a positive online exchange between business and customer that is seen, noted and shared by others and offers a highly visible commendation of your company.

However, feedback will not always be positive and this is the tricky subject we cover in this blog post. Here are 10 top tips on how to manage disgruntled customers on social media.

1. Ignorance is not bliss

You’ve put in the hard graft to promote your business on social media, building an engaged online following with all the benefits that entails.Now be prepared to manage criticism with the same dedication and candour you have for praise and recommendation.

Ignoring the problem doesn’t make it go away. 

2. Be alert

Online criticism isn’t guaranteed to come during working hours. Opt-in to the readily available automated e-mail alerts from your social media channels that let you know immediately when interaction is made with your business profiles, good or bad. 

3. Be vigilant

Remember that comments about your business won’t necessarily appear on or even be directed toward your social media channels. There are an increasing number of ‘customer focused’ group forums on platforms such as Facebook and Twitter where users are invited to offer their opinions on local businesses.

These comments are very easily missed by businesses, so damaging remarks can go completely unnoticed until it’s too late. Using a social media monitoring tool (we recommend Hootsuite) to track all mentions of your business across social networking platforms gives a much improved chance of detecting and countering such criticism. 

4. Be prompt

Deal with complaints, comments and criticism as quickly as possible. Allowing these posts to sit unattended on your timeline suggests that you are detached from your social media audience and unwilling to address legitimate customer issues. Not a great message to send out on a platform used to promote your product and advocate your brand on a daily basis. 

5. Keep calm

It’s understandable that you might find some of the criticism aimed at your business unfair and damagingly public. Remember to maintain the tone of voice that your company uses with all external communication; calm, professional and helpful.  

6. Shift the conversation

There’s no shame in taking the conversation away from the public domain. Engaging the customer with a private message and offering a direct phone number or email address to continue the discussion shows dedication to resolving the issue and avoids a drawn-out conversation unfurling on a very public newsfeed.  

7. Prepare for the occasional slice of humble pie

Where a criticism or complaint is valid, apologise to a customer publicly with an offer of further assistance or compensation. This showcases the quality and integrity of service your company offers and your commitment to customer satisfaction. 

8. Never delete it 

You wouldn’t delete an online commendation or promising sales lead, so treat complaints and criticism with same respect. Deleting unfavourable comments suggests culpability on your part and denies you a great opportunity to publicly display your customer service skills. And you could quickly find yourself the victim of the sharp-eyed screen shotter...

9. (Unless it’s an expletive)

Any post containing foul language should be removed. Approach Mr or Mrs Potty Mouth through a private message if possible, explaining why the post was removed and how to explore the issue privately.

For repeat offenders, banning and reporting the user is a necessary evil. 

10. Keep the faith

Correctly utilised, social media is an incredibly powerful and effective business tool, so if your company is living up to customer expectation positive feedback will far outweigh the negative across your channels. 

If criticism does occur, your focus on dealing quickly and effectively with the issue will only act to enhance your brand.   

 

Relevant reading on this blog: 

The customers always write: Social media and consumer service

The Fisherman’s Friend: How tasty is your social media bait?