What to do with Negative Feed Back on Social Media

Significance of Negative Feed Back 

Today more so than ever before, products are market driven, meaning that the consumers decide what they want and the manufactures listen. Entire product lines dedicated to meeting the customers needs have been formed by large companies like Nike Air Max shoes that have various options to that allow you to “build it yourself.” The shoes can come in thousands of variations of colors, and you can even embroider whatever you want on your shoe. This shift from mass production to mass customization has developed high expectations for businesses catering to the consumers needs. 

Social media has given rise to the number of consumers that make their complaints public, and voice their positive and negative experiences.  Fabio Shimabukuro Sandes and Andre Torres Urdan, Marketing Researchers for Fundação Getulio Vargas Marketing Strategies in São Paulo, Brazil, recently conducted a study “Electronic Word-of-Mouth Impacts on Consumer Behavior: Exploratory and Experimental Studies” that explored the effects of both negative and positive feed back on social media. The results showed that exposure to unaddressed negative comments negatively effected the brand image and purchase intentions; however, the effective management of customer complaints increases a company’s long-term sales and profits.

The Steps

To appropriately integrate responses to be consistent with your brand’s image you should establish systematic plan to address social media feed back both positive and negative. 

Step 1: Identify the problem 

While identifying the problem it is important to know that the severity of the subject should not be taken out of proportion or underrepresented. By misinterpreting the problem or misunderstanding the severity of the customer’s concern, you may signify that their complaint is not important to the company or the company does not listen. Here are some identifiers you can associate with the customer’s complaint. 

  1. General Discontent – Something inconvenienced a customer associated with your brand and the customer grumbled at your brand publicly. Example: My @Starbucks coffee took 10 minutes this morning because they got my order wrong, so annoying. Proper Response: “Hello @Emily we are really sorry to hear about your inconvenience this morning, please do let us know if you have any issues in the future.
  2. Straight Problems – A consumer has an issue with your product or service and has laid out exactly what went wrong, the consumer usually paints your business in a poor light, but it can be helpful in exposing real problems that should be dealt with and need to be fixed. Example: @Starbuck, I wish I had some coffee with my sugar. Proper Response: Hello @Emily, we are sorry that our product did not meet your needs today. We have extremely high standards in our coffee. Our baristas are well trained, and will replace any orders that are incorrect or
  3. Constructive Criticism – Even more helpful is when the comment comes with a suggestion attached. Many customers, including some of your most loyal, will use social media to suggest ways in which you can improve your product or service. While this type of feedback may point out your flaws, and is thus negative, it can be extremely helpful to receive.
  4. Merited Attack – While the attack itself may not be merited, the issue that catalyzed it does have merit in this type of negative feedback. Essentially, you or your company did something wrong, and someone is angry
  5. Trolling/Spam – Internet trolls have no valid reason for being angry at you. Also in this category are spammers, who will use a negative comment about your product or service (whether true or not) to promote a competing service. No response necessary with these types of responses, and you will often find yourself in trouble if you do respond. 

Step 2 & 3: Apologize publicly and Establish point of contact of expertise.

As simple as it may sound a problem may be solved just by simply saying the company is sorry, and we hope that we preform to your needs in the future. If you see the problem growing into something that you are will not be able to answer, but that another representative will have a better understanding, contact that representative and ask for advice. You should remain in contact with the consumer throughout the entire process to ensure that the consumer is not bounced around from department to department.

You should also set a time frame of when they should hear back from you with a more extended response if necessary.  

Step 4: Take out of the public eye.

By establishing transparency in the apology, you can now address the deeper issue if there is one out of the public eye. An explanation of why operations are run a certain way or a tour of the company can help ease the situation.

Step 5: Extended response if necessary

After the initial apology is established and point of contact has given you a more detailed description of the problem or solution, address the consumer with an extended response.

Step 6: Resolve Publicly

Close off the initial negative comment with a message such as, “We are very happy that we have managed to help you with your issue and look forward to your future custom.

A Few More Tips:

Never Delete negative posts unless authorized and justifiable. This creates more negative backlash and adds fuel to the fire. The Susan G Komen Foundation realized this after negative feedback flooded their social media pages after they announced that they would not longer found breast exams at Planned Parenthood’s. 

Always turn the negative into positive. I am reminded of a time I visited Disney, and how brilliantly the characters and staff are trained. A family member asked a staff member what time the park closed, and the staff member responded the park is open until 9. 

Keep emotion out of it. It’s not personal. 

Respond as quickly as possible. Social Media is ever changing and you need to keep up with this fast paced environment.

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