Running a business online comes with all the trimmings our beloved internet has to offer. An exponential reach, streamlined user experiences, but also the veil of anonymity. When you are confined to a mostly digital space, reviews have the power to make or break what took years to get up and running. This makes responding to negative customer feedback almost as important as getting great feedback in the first place! Today we’ll explore some classic public relations ideas and how they work for companies online:
Responding to Negative Customer Feedback
No one is perfect, and maybe a customer had a less than savory experience with your company. If they are like the majority of people today, they probably won’t say it to your face. Rather, they’ll take to forums, social media, and perhaps even your own blog to let as many people know their frustration as possible! As easy as it is to feed into someone’s rage, it’s best to take a neutralizing approach. Here’s how:
1. Locate Each Mention
Whether it’s on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn, you’ll want to track down where each mention of your brand occurred. Getting a hold on how many people may have seen the post is the starting point for responding to negative customer feedback. You’ll want to see how many times it was shared, as well as gauging the severity of what was said. This is kind of the “damage control” portion of this process, and it’s important to begin mitigating things.
2. Let Empathy Guide You
While it’s easy to shout back at an unruly commenter or group, the safest approach comes through empathy. Whether the incident was your mistake or not, it’s often recommended to keep a cool, level approach to the situation. Try to imagine just how frustrated a customer is and do your best to relate to their post or review. Responding to negative customer feedback is really about taking responsibility when needed. At the same time, this doesn’t mean you need to bite the bullet if something wasn’t your fault. Each situation will be different, but using empathy in your response remains important.
3. Answer to the Public
When it comes to social media, conversations between angered customers and a company often amounts to a spectator sport. Responding to negative customer feedback is as much about defending your reputation as it is finding a solution. If the backlash reaches a point where the public demands answers, issuing a statement may be needed. For smaller scale, individual customer incidents its best to deal with their issue in a channel where others may not see your response.
4. Reply Only Twice
While it’s tempting to blow up someone’s social media notifications or inbox, keep your replies to a minimum. Reply once to the initial concern, offering solutions or acknowledging responsibility. Anything beyond this should be an attempt to direct the conversation to a representative or somewhere more “behind the scenes.” When replying, stick to the facts and answer quickly. Don’t provide more information than is necessary.
5. Maneuver with Your Channels
Obviously, social media wasn’t designed to be a customer service portal, so responding to negative customer feedback requires offline solutions. Whether it’s Twitter’s character limit or Facebook’s ever-changing feed, it’s important to consider how your channels can best resolve an issue. Sometimes, that really means connecting disgruntled customers with real people in your company. Again, reply only twice, ensuring that the second reply takes things out of the public eye. Likewise, if you are able to resolve the issue, posting the solution for the public to praise can have uplifting effects on your social presence and brand.
So just to recap — responding to negative customer feedback means first locating where the feedback exists, showing empathy, responding publicly but concisely, and using your channels to display solutions. Following these basic ideas can help quell a crisis and keep your company or brand’s reputation from degrading too far.
Do you have any experience responding to negative customer feedback? Let us know your techniques in the comments below!