Social media has been embraced by a large number of organisations over the last few years, and organisations have seen this as an opportunity to engage with their audience. However, the audience may see it slightly differently – they may see social as a communication channel with which to raise issues.
So, how should you respond to criticism or negative feed-back that you receive in such a public environment as social media?
Firstly, you need to understand what type of feed-back it is, as this will determine how you should respond.
Genuine Issue Raised: if the customer is complaining about a genuine issue, then this is certainly one that you should respond to. It may be the case that the issue raised is procedural or subject to a policy which cannot be overturned, but if that is the case, tell the customer that.
Constructive Criticism: if you have ever tried writing one of these posts, you will know how long they can take to write. So, take the time to thank the customer for their thoughts and answer honestly. The feedback may not contain something that the company has not thought of before, but take the time to say thank you.
Trolling: this is where the person complaining is looking to start an argument by posting ‘bait’ to encourage a response. And that is why this is the only type of interaction that you should not respond to. Just ignore it!
And some broader tips to dealing with criticism:
Be prompt: The average time between a customer posting onto social media and the organisation getting back to them is 7 hours – what does that say about how important the customer is?! You should aim to respond as quickly as possible, even if that’s to say that we are trying to get hold of the right person and we will update you later.
Stay positive: There are a number of examples of how quickly things can escalate if your approach to criticism is defensive and confrontational – you need to stay positive, regardless of how angry the customer is.
Accept the feedback: If someone has taken the time to write to your company, then you should accept the feedback in good grace. Let the customer know that steps are being taken, and thank them for letting you know about it.
Be a human: One of the fastest ways to diffuse a situation is to answer the questions like a human being, rather than like a corporate talking head.