Social media: managing negative comments

There’s no escaping it – social media has become a huge part of our professional lives and although you may not be a fan, your company needs a presence on at least one social media platform. When it’s going well, we get a buzz from a ‘like’ or a new follower, but what happens when it doesn’t go so well and you come in for online criticism?

It’s important to be aware of who is saying what when it comes to your social media platforms and be vigilant for all mentions of your brand and product – including your people. Googling your company can be a good place to start and setting up google alerts to monitor what people are saying will keep you in the loop.

Sometimes the criticism is based on a fact or genuinely poor service that a customer or client has recieved, but sometimes it could just be a grudge. Before you proceed, identify the category of the complaint – is it is a business error, a misunderstanding, a negative comment or spam? Identifying the category will help you to come up with the best solution for dealing with the problem.

Unhappy customers tend to lash out when they feel their concerns are not being listened to. For example, a few years ago a British Airways (BA) passenger tweeted a complaint to the company about their customer service following the loss of his father’s suitcase. 76,000 twitter users saw the complaint, but BA failed to respond for 8 hours, then gave the excuse that their twitter feed is only open from 9-5… which for a 24/7 global operational service, seems rather odd.

Another airline, Jet Blue, offers a better example: one twitter user tweeted about being upset at having to to home and (jokingly) asked for a parade to greet her at the gate. The company’s twitter team saw the tweet and sent it to the airport customer service team, who met her at the gate for a welcome home parade!

Financial services firms don’t tend to have the volume of transactions or personnel to man the lines or field as many incoming messages, but appropriate humour and the personal touch can make all the difference.

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