What's the best way to address a customer complaint or unflattering review on social media? Should I respond publicly? Or send a private message to get more information? - James K. Warren, Michigan
Let's face it: Public complaints and unflattering or negative reviews are a part of participating in social media, but they also give you a great chance to show customers and potential customers just how well your business operates.
It's been my experience that responding publicly to a comment on social media is usually the best practice. You can first apologize for the customer's negative experience, then offer a solution. Your solution can range from offering to take the conversation offline to hear more about the customer's experience to offering a chance to make it up to the customer with a discounted or complimentary service.
The key here is to address each customer personally so your company appears personable and real instead of automated and distant. There's nothing more frustrating to a customer than a generic response that doesn't address his or her concern or offer a solution. It's the difference between, "Sorry for your experience," and "@[Customer name or username], I apologize for the negative experience. Please send me your email for a complimentary service."
Another notable thing to consider when addressing a negative review or concern on social media is to know when to take it offline. Your profile is no place for a lengthy discussion, or worse - a battle of wits. If a customer seems dissatisfied with your response, offer to take the conversation offline to continue it further. A simple response such as "Thanks for your feedback. Please send me a private message (or direct message for Twitter) so we can discuss your experience further."
Finally, the most important factor when responding to any comment or post on your social media accounts is response time. Social media is as real-time as it gets, and customers expect responses (depending on the channel) within minutes. Take advantage of social media notifications and listening tools to ensure that each time someone reaches out, that they get a quick, kind, and resolution-based response.
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