It just takes one or a few negative complaints about your business on social media to start a firestorm.
Due to the time difference between Great Britain and the U.S., many viewers got delayed coverage in the States, especially on the West Coast. As a result, viewers took to Twitter and other social venues to vent their frustration.
While NBC is got its full share of publicity, many at corporate headquarters were probably not thinking this kind of attention when the network signed on to cover the event at a cost of more than $1 billion. Making things even more public, a Twitter hashtag (#NBCfail) had been running amok on the world’s second largest social media venue, leading NBC to compete in its own game of spin control.
So while your business is not likely dealing with consumer outrage on such a large scale, there are certainly lessons to be learned this summer.
Whether you handle all your social media, SEO and marketing needs in-house or outsource them through a professional consultant or PR firm, make sure you are up to speed with how fast things are moving.
In order to make sure you have the upper hand on bad social media publicity, any business needs to move fast, clear the record, and not turn a deaf ear to what the buying public has to say.
If you are new to social media complaints and not sure how your business should be responding, keep these factors in mind:
1. Be consistent – EVERY complaint against your company via social media needs to be vetted and dealt with. In the event that one complaint comes through Facebook and another on a much lesser-known social network, do not think for a minute that the latter one is any less important. Your business should have a social media complaint policy, and standard response time, in place so that you can deal with these problems quickly and consistently. Letting a few slip by here and there because they do not seem that troublesome is the last thing you want to do. You may not need to respond to every complaint depending on its validity, but you should certainly review them all;
2. Get the facts straight – If you have ever worked in a sizable company or even a busy small one for that matter, you know that oftentimes one hand does not know what the other one is doing. Assuming your marketing folks are in charge of social media, they may have little or no clue what the customer service folks are doing and vice-versa. What ends up happening is there is a lack of communication, meaning the customer complaint is not being properly conveyed to one or the other departments. If your customer service team is not aware of a complaint made through Facebook or Twitter, they cannot deal with it, just like the people in charge of social media cannot properly deal with issues if they do not know all the facts involving the particular customer in question. Work together in order to bring about the best result;
3. Don’t rely on social media solely – Given the technological world we live in, it is easy for many companies to simply send out a short apology or address an issue over social media, hoping that closes to book on that chapter. Truth be known, going that extra mile can be the difference between retaining a customer and seeing them begin doing business with your competitors. It certainly never hurts to follow up a valid complaint with a letter or even phone call in some instances. Yes, the age of letter writing has pretty much gone by the wayside given the access to the Internet that most businesses have, but a little personal touch now and then certainly will not hurt your company;
4. Don’t engage in World War III with customers online – In the event a customer has a legitimate beef with your company, take the discussion offline whenever possible so that it does not become an online soap opera. A simple message such as “We noticed you took issue with our service and/or product and are working to rectify the matter” works much better than going back-and-forth with a he said/she said online. If you don’t want the general public grabbing their popcorn and pulling up a chair to watch you feud it out online with someone, then be practical about where to have the discussion.
At the end of the day, how your business responds to social media complaints can well determine whether you come out ahead with the gold medal or have to settle for the bronze.
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