The internet is fast becoming the easiest platform for customer interaction. With over a billion active users on networks like Facebook and Twitter, two-way communication between companies and their clientele has never been more feasible. When a brand posts on Facebook, its target market can immediately see, respond, or share the post, making it faster than ever for digital marketers to understand their customers’ behaviors and assess the effectiveness of their communication campaigns.
As with any forum, one drawback to giving customers the space to publicly express their satisfaction with the brand is that the same tool can be used to air out the inevitable reverse reaction: negative feedback. The main difficulty with addressing public complaints is that the distance makes any communication seem much less sincere than if it were delivered in person. To tackle these situations, online marketers must remember a few basic pointers:
Acknowledge and Apologize
Contrary to what celebrities and political figures practice, ignoring negative feedback does not make it go away. If anything, leaving a customer complaint unanswered exacerbates the problem and encourages an even more irate follow-up. After being slammed by the initial public complaint, the first step in online reputation repair is to acknowledge the problem with an apology. Regardless of what the issue is or who is at fault, accepting the responsibility automatically puts the complainer at ease and makes them feel respected. Studies show that apologizing increases customer loyalty and retention because clients understand that their concerns are being heard.
Let Your Patrons Help You Out
If the negative remark seems blown out of proportion – which a number of them surely will be – loyal customers who disagree will usually come to the company’s defense. On platforms like Facebook, where customer wall posts can be responded to via comments, patrons who feel that the negative words are underserved will normally respond to refute the complaint and counter its claims with a positive experience of their own. Of course, you should still address the complaint directly, but just remember that there’s no shame in getting by with a little help from friends.