6 Important Rules to Keep Upset Customers from Sinking Your Business in Social Media

Social media is an awesome tool that can sink your business with Titanic speed.

One PR nightmare can unfold in an instant, case in point:

The recent Ocean Marketing debacle and Nestle’s infamous Facebook disaster — two examples where where poor handling of customer feedback escalated into a damaging situation.

Don’t learn your lessons the hard way. Learn these important rules for dealing with angry customers in your business’s social media.

So, when an upset customer complains in social media:

1) Cool your jets:

Never, never react emotionally. Social media offers a virtual curtain of anonymity that allows people freedom to say things they normally wouldn’t say to your face. Snarky, sarcastic comments are the language of the social web and once you realize that you can temper your reactions. If necessary, bounce it off your peers first.

2) Kill ’em with kindness:

Be professional and respectful but don’t overdo it and become patronizing. Always thank the customer for their feedback. Even when responding to the most sarcastic, angry, insulting comments, always refrain from talking down or being critical.

3) Show understanding:

Tell them you understand their frustration. This will diffuse the situation 90% of the time. Be personal in your response, avoid sounding robotic with canned copy. Answer back by describing to them what you see is their problem — using listener-speaker technique. Use words you would use if you were speaking to the customer face to face.

4) Proceed with care:

Don’t write something that you will regret. Remember, any email message, blog comment, Tweet or Facebook reply is out there in the World Wide Webiverse and can’t be taken back. Quite often your words will be twisted into a context you never intended. Measure your words.

5) Steer the conversation offline:

Back and forth comments take control out of your hands, and can often lead to mockery or public scrutiny. At the first possible opportunity, offer the customer a chance for you to privately contact them by email or phone. It typically ends the social conversation and shows other customers you are making this customer’s concern a top personal priority. It goes a long way.

6) Stay active:

Check in with comments on your social networks at least twice per week, if not more, and respond to all comments — good and bad — with a consistent, active voice. An unanswered comment is only fodder to give an angry customer one more reason to be mad at you. A consistent active voice will keep customers from getting too angry in the first place.

Make these 6 rules the founding customer policy for your blog, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and any other social media outlet your business has a presence on. If you have other rules you’d like to share, please comment, I’d love to hear them.

Jeff Doubek offers you this and more, contact Doubek Marketing Services.

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