One of the myriad of reasons small (and other) business give for not venturing into the social media sphere is that it opens them up to online criticism. But, guess what, even the most conscientious business cops some flack at times, and most successful business realise that a complaint (even an unjustified one) can be great for quality control.
Whether the issue is one of product quality, service level or even a misunderstanding, social media is a great tool for addressing the customer’s concern, working together for a solution, and hopefully showing others how much you care.
So, what should you do if someone posts a negative comment on your Facebook page? You’ll see it really isn’t much different than addressing complaints made in person, by phone or by email.
- Acknowledge publicly, but address privately: The first thing you need to do is to post a reply on the page – something along the lines of: “Thank you for taking the time to raise this issue with us, we will contact you privately to discuss your concern.” This shows the customer that you care, but that you are not willing to air your or their dirty laundry in public. The last thing you want is a slanging match on your Facebook page. For one thing it is likely to attract other critics.
- Apologise: Nothing takes the wind out of an angry customer’s sails quite the two little words “I’m sorry” (closely followed by “thank you”). Even if the issue appears at first glance to be unreasonable, it doesn’t hurt to apologise – at least for the fact that they feel slighted.
- Be clear in your policies: Let’s say, for instance, the complaint is about your returns’ policy, or postage guarantee, or even how many design drafts are allowed as part of the initial quote. If you can refer the customer to a clear, easily-accessible written policy, your argument is made for you. If you can’t, well their argument is. And if the latter is the case, then refund the postage cost/do the extra edits/welcome their return. And learn from it.
- Remain patient: So, you’ve taken the issue off line, but the customer keeps posting on your page anyway. The key is to stay calm and not return fire with fire. Each time they post, you are free to keep answering that you would prefer the issue be dealt with privately. If you do this patiently and consistently, it is the customer who will seem a fool to your other likers. If this continues unabated, and it looks like a no-win situation, then step away – your other fans will soon see this customer for the troll her or she is.
- Resolve the issue quickly: And then either ask the customer to remove their original post, or is they won’t then there’s no really harm in posting an update yourself on that first post explaining how it was resolved.
- Ban the customer: This is really the last-gasp option. But if a resolution can’t be found, and the customer is unreasonable and persistent, then ban them. The risk you run is that they will still post nasty comment about you elsewhere – kind of like talking behind your back – which you won’t be in a position to defend. But on the upside, their nasty comments won’t appear in your other fans’ newsfeeds.
Direct Sites Online can help you set up your Facebook page, as well as give you an overview of Facebook etiquette. Contact us now on firstname.lastname@example.org or 02 9557 7623.