How to deal with Complaints and Bad Reviews online!
Lets face it,no one likes getting complaints, especially when you genuinely feel that your business, your staff or even you personally have done nothing wrong. But with the arrival of Internet and Social Media how you deal with those complaints is now critical. In reality anyone in the world can now make a complaint about your business and just as importantly anyone in the world can see how you react to that complaint. So here are some tops tips to help smooth the those troubled Social Media waters.
MAKE SURE YOU MONITOR FOR ALL YOUR MENTIONS
Most people who make a complaint on social media expect a business to respond within 60 minutes, regardless of the day of the week or the time of day. The reality is that unless you have a dedicated social media team the average reply time is 5 hours (Buffer research). Even worse lots of small businesses only check their social media feeds once a day and have no mechanism in place for checking other online areas so could easily miss mentions in their entirety.
Every business should have some form of social media listening software, not only for their business but names of staff and products/services as well. It’s a well known fact that around 50% of online complainers do not actually tag the business they are complaining about, but mention staff or products instead. If you are not monitoring them then how do you know when someone is talking about you?
No matter how you may actually feel, and just how much you really want to let that complainer know exactly what you think of them, when it comes to replies you really do need to rise above it. The physical reaction to a complaint is no different online than offline. You start to feel angry, your heart rate jumps about 20 beats a minute, your blood pressure increases and you start to breath rapidly. These are preprogrammed reactions as you body prepares to fight or flight, that instinctive survival mechanism that has insured the survival of the human race to date.
Unfortunately mother nature didn’t program us for a reaction to a complaint on Social Media. Empathy is the way to go. Don’t get me wrong that doesn’t mean ‘the customer is always right’ but it does mean that the customer is always heard and that you show that you understand that they are having a problem. In reality this usually means saying something like “I’m sorry”, two little words that can go an amazingly long way to making everything better.
When it come to Empathy another critical factor is to be human and authentic, copy and paste replies really just get people’s backs up, in fact sometimes an auto reply can do major harm, even worse than no reply at all.
WHEN YOU ANSWER MAKE SURE EVERYONE CAN SEE IT
If you customer has complained in public then make sure that you reply in public. Yes I know it’s very tempting to drop them an email, or direct message or some other way of direct contact but the eyes of the world are watching, oh ok maybe not the entire world but you can bet that there is a perspective client and customer who are watching this exchange and this is great opportunity to show everyone just how amazing your business really is. If you reply in private you may very well have resolved the complaint but lost the trust of those bystanders that have watched on the sidelines.
ONLY EVER GIVE TWO REPLIES
We see it all the time on social media, a back and forth of complaining and replying that gets no one any further forward but makes you and your business look just plain silly. If you are empathetic, honest and transparent with your reply there should never be any need to reply more than twice. You must acknowledge though that there are people out there who like nothing more that to complain and also we have seen a bit of skulduggery with competitors in certain markets just trying to make their competition look stupid.
Here is a little example of a fictitious exchange between a business and Joe Public.
Joe:- I have just had the displeasure of drinking the worst coffee in the entire world, call yourself a coffee shop, more like dishwasher shop.
Coffee Shop :- Hi Joe, I am so sorry that our coffee has disappointed, can you tell me when you came in and I will look at what has gone wrong?
Joe:- It doesn’t matter now, way too late. I won’t be drinking your dishwater ever again!
Coffee Shop :- I am so sorry that you are unhappy and I really want to help. Please contact me via our website email and I will try and put this right.
Joe:- What with more dishwater?
Now at this point it is really tempting to continue with Joe but don’t. The golden rule is two replies only, don’t get dragged down into a back a forth with Joe. You have covered the bases, you have said sorry, you have offered to check why the coffee was wrong, you have empathised and offered again to help and also shown Joe how to help himself. If Joe now wants to carry on then let him.
Of course it may be that you only need to reply once and if you manage to solve the problem or resolve the complaint with your first reply then that is fine. You will also note that you offered a separate way of communicating via email which is again fine, although using the rule of two you should reply on the same public channel as the complaint, sometimes especially on Twitter 280 characters is just not enough.
SO TO ROUND UP.
Make sure you monitor social media for mentions of your business, yourself and your staff and not just the channels you use but check much wider, just because you are not using SnapChat for instance, doesn’t mean someone isn’t complaining about you on it.
Don’t give in to anger and aggression when you reply, take a deep breath, empathise and say sorry even if inside you don’t want to. Remember the whole world is watching!
Reply in public, use the same channel if at all possible. So if someone complains on tripadvisor then reply on tripadvisor. You can always drop to email or private messenger later but initially show everyone you take complaints very seriously by responding in public.
Never give more than two replies in public. There will always be that person who is not going to go away and just wants to drag things out. Just remember the golden rule of two. Oh and remember if you do reply in private there is nothing to stop the complainer then screen shooting the reply and putting it out on social media so keep your private replies just as wholesome as the public ones.
Lastly if you would like some help with things like social media monitoring, crisis management, or your personal / business reputation then just give us a call. Yes we teach social media and things like setting up and using it but it goes way beyond that and we are here to help and support your business in making sure you get it right.