The first social media platforms sprung up by 1997, just a few years after the worldwide web became available to the masses. Sites like Facebook and Twitter that have been available to users since 2006 have taken over like wildfire. Given that a sheer number of users on such social media sites is literally in the billions, it comes as no surprise that businesses can efficiently, effectively and often cheaply market to potential customers through these platforms by speaking directly to your Facebook, Twitter and Instagram followers.
Studies conclusively show that users who follow businesses on social media are more likely to buy from them. Social media can also be a means through which users can leave reviews about a company. Regardless of the type of comment, it is imperative for a business it addresses it aptly and promptly. This is especially true for negative reviews.
So how should a brand respond to negative reviews on social media? Here are some tips:
Don’t Ignore the Review
First thing’s first. A brand should never ignore or even try to remove a negative comment or review. Indeed, that is one sure way to lose customers. We, as humans, have a fundamental need to feel heard and understood, and customers are no different. Thus, it is a brand’s duty to read and respond to as many reviews as possible- positive and negative alike. If handled properly, such responses can even work as an effective marketing technique. If you are having difficulty with handling the reviews or don’t have time to do it, it is better to take the help of a social media company who will keep their eyes on the reviews and will help in saving the reputation of your company
However, if you are willing to deal with it on your own, here are a few things you need to keep in your mind. The response should be personalized, addressing the person by name and acknowledging the issue that person highlighted. This is a better alternative to a generalized answer. The reply should also have a sympathetic and apologetic tone. It is important to not mention the brand name in response to a negative review as the review could then show up if the brand is searched for. For the same reason, it is advisable to mention the brand name if the reply is to a positive review.
The review should not be a long paragraph- two to three well- constructed lines should suffice. It is also important to mention that the particular issue that the customer faced is a ‘one-off’ and not the norm.
For example, a restaurant may reply to a review as follows (keeping the above- mentioned rules in mind): “Hello David. We are sincerely sorry to hear that you experienced slow service the last time you visited us. We always strive to provide you with the best experience possible and guarantee that this was an unfortunate anomaly that is sure not to be repeated.”
Reach out in Person
While it is advisable to issue one short, public reply to a negative review, that may not be enough. Thus, a business may need to reach out to a customer via personal message. While not all customers can be reached out to in this way, there are certainly positives for contacting at least a few.
For one, you can get to know more about some severe issue the customer faced. Was a sales agent rude to you? Let us know more. The details may then help you identify the agent and have them disciplined. Remember never to make excuses for what happened. It is always much better to acknowledge and promise to attempt to improve.
Secondly, contacting a person via private chat prevents a long, drawn-out conversation on a public forum. Such a back and forth brings more eyes to the issue- something you’d want to avoid as much as possible. Not only that, instead a customer is more likely to respond in a calm and collected manner on a private chat than in response to an angry rant for all to see. Such a customer can then be appeased much more effectively.
Keeping with our theme of letting customers know how much they are valued, it is important to ask customers for their suggestions on how to resolve their issues. Quite often you will receive some genuinely valuable feedback.
Provide Offline Contact Information
At the end of a personal message conversation, the customer should be provided with offline contact information such as a phone number. They should be urged to contact that number with any further complaints or queries they may have.
Think of this as the last line of defense. Some customers may be dealt with via a public reply and others via a private conversation. However, there will always be those who need an even more intimate answer- those who want verbal communication with another person. Thus, online responses are an essential adjunct to telephone helplines but not a replacement for them.
Improve Your Service
The end objective for all the above-mentioned steps is to gain or regain a customer’s loyalty. What better way to do that than by actually acting on a customer’s suggestion? What better way to show a client they are invaluable to a business than by implementing their feedback? Indeed, actions speak louder than words.
Note, however, that not all complaints can be acted upon. For example, while it may be worthwhile to improve the speed of service in a Chinese restaurant, it would be ridiculous to add Indian food to the menu just because a couple of reviews asked for it. A business should accept that pleasing all will never be possible and should instead aim to satisfy as many as it can.
A chronological list should be made with the most pertinent and solvable issues at the top and less important ones lower down. As a rough estimate, a brand could start by aiming to address about 1/3rd of the negative reviews that come its way.
Remember that it is always ideal to hire a social media company who is well- versed in the field of social media marketing (SMM). Engaging with customers on social media is extremely helpful in increasing brand loyalty. This is because social media can prove to be making or breaking factor in today’s environment. While engaging with customers via social media can be extremely helpful in increasing brand loyalty, quite the opposite effect may be achieved if these platforms are mishandled.