Many may disagree with what I’m about to share. But I think some may find it refreshing.
I do a lot with Autisable and Xanga in regards to Social Media. I’ve even helped out other companies with their social media as well.
From setting up accounts for businesses, to training the people that use those accounts.
Many people that know me, ask for advice on what should be done in certain situations – from strategy on use of Social Media – to handling tough situations.
Let’s just say that after ten years of Blogging and doing Social Media…. I’ve come across just about everything you can think about… and then some.
I still come across new situations – and that’s what makes being on Social media interesting.
But that’s not what I think some folks may disagree with…. especially people who do social media for a living.
Here’s where we may part ways in terms of Business PR and strategy in regards to handling tough situations….
Many companies have taken the stance that when a customer leaves a negative comment thread – to take that thread offline… and delete the thread.
Now, overall I understand that idea. They want to address the customers needs privately, and that’s ok. It also shows a lot of positive comments on websites and social media outlets putting a company easily in the best light.
The challenge with this is that you get some negative feedback from those who saw the negative thread to begin with. The mumblings of negativity are now under the radar – beyond the reach of corporate view – not allowing for anyone to see what’s ‘really’ going on with a company – or with how the company treats it’s customers.
However, what about that negative comment still left on the site – or social media outlet? What really needs to be done with that?
Personally, I say leave it. It’s their words, and in my opinion when you delete their comment – it can be akin to censorship. Of course, if there’s foul or inappropriate language – then at least you (and everyone that see’s that comment) knows how strongly they felt about a situation.
Think about this as well – sometimes negative comments bring traffic to a site and/or a more people to a discussion. Now you can delete the comment thread from your site and/or your social media outlets… or use it as a tool to put your company in the best light.
So let’s say you leave the person’s negative comment on the site – what should you do?
Address the person directly, listening to their issues, responding appropriately to the situation. Offering to help where you can, and coming to a resolution that both sides can be happy with. Serving a customer may mean a bit of compromise to make them happy. And we all know that a happy customer is a repeat customer… but beyond that… these are people sharing their stories and getting personally involved in your business… so it’s really about building a relationship with them.
Who knows, they may have a seriously valid issue on how business is being conducted – and it could be a valuable insight on how to improve your business. No one is perfect, so getting feedback from customers in how things are being handled could be extremely enlightening to those making the decisions. Also, if the discussion is more ‘public’ – and you are able to handle the situation well – then everyone knows what happened… that the customer was treated with respect to a bad situation – and the company handled it well.
How many times do we see internet meme’s with good customer service being handled via chat room screen pics? I know I’ve seen some good ones. They are good to read, and worth noting on how well bad situations can become a time for a company to shine.
Once the situation is mutually resolved – then ask the person who made the comment to respond to it again – or at least reply back that we’ve touch base with this customer directly – showing that the business is listening – and responding to as many issues as possible. An attempt at an open and public response should be expected on both sides.
Knowing that a business is listening, even if they are having their own challenges on resolving issues at the moment – is far better than nothing being said by the company. Deleting a comment thread because of a negative response can also be a message to the customer – telling them to ‘shut-up’.
Embrace the challenge of building relationships with people who provide their feedback. Their honesty will help you fill the gaps where improvement is needed/required.
I’ve always found the following to be a good starting point when doing social media: ”Be open, be honest, be social.”
Now, do you agree or disagree with what I’ve just shared? Feel free to leave a comment… Don’t worry, I won’t be offended.