Responding to Negative Customer Feedback on Social Media

Can social media have an effect on the customer experience? You bet your bottom dollar it can.

“Personally, if I have a good or bad experience with a business, I oftentimes will tweet it or I’ll post it on Facebook. I’ll leave those comments up there for my friends and family to read,” says Kelly Ahern, account executive for Caster Communications, a public relations firm that handles Linear’s social media accounts.

“If you have some negative feedback, it can spread like wildfire,” adds Megan Ragan, marketing and graphic design consultant for Atronic Alarms.

Uh oh. That doesn’t sound good at all. What happens if your business receives negative criticism from customers on Facebook or Twitter? Should you simply delete the message? Does it make sense to respond back? It just so happens that SECURITY SALES & INTEGRATION can provide the answers to those questions. While the September issue of the publication covers best practice tips for managing social media marketing, the last installment of the three-part social media blog series addresses how electronic security firms should handle negative feedback on social networking sites.

It’s important to remember that by entering the social media marketing world, you have encouraged prospective and existing clients to voice their opinions about your company, according to Kristen Simmons, managing partner of marketing firm Lightswitch.

“Everyone is getting online to voice their customer experiences,” she says. “You used to be able to keep your complainers quiet. Now it’s all visible.”

So, if your alarm or monitoring firm receives some undesirable remarks from the public, you should take action to combat it immediately.

“If you ask for feedback, you have to be prepared to do something about it. Deleting a [negative] comment doesn’t actually solve anything because the customer is still upset and frustrated,” Vivint Social Media Manager Ian Bell says.

Simmons agrees and says that by keeping the negative comment on Facebook and Twitter, as well as your response, it will help clients see that you care about their concerns. “Respond by explaining how you’re making it better for the customer. I always suggest being honest. If your Facebook page is all positive, it looks like you’re filtering and then people are going to be less likely to engage with you. They’ll think, ‘If I say something negative, they are just going to take it off the page.’ It breeds a sense of distrust.”

Additionally, having a response plan in place will help settle matters quickly, according to ADS Security Marketing Manager Kristin Milner. Milner, along with ADS’ customer care department, makes sure to take down the contact information, such as location, phone number and E-mail address, of the client with a complaint. The customer care department immediately contacts the branch manager located in the same geographic region as the customer. It is then the manager’s responsibility to reach out to the consumer to solve any disputes.

“We learned pretty quickly that we were going to get negative feedback,” Milner says. “With the response plan in place, we know exactly what steps to take in order to resolve the issue.”

And while you may be passionate about your business, the last thing anyone should do is engage in a back-and-forth argument with a customer. After all, you have two types of audiences of which you should be mindful — the customer and the watching public.

“I’ve seen companies respond to customers like they’re having a conversation. Yikes! You want to always be professional, helpful and courteous,” Milner says. “If you’re responding to an upset customer, you must have a cool head. Remember that everyone will read what you respond to that one person.”

This concludes SSI’s social media blog series. Do you have thoughts on how to respond to customer complaints on social media? Leave them in the comments section below!

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