As part of the social media presentation I gave to a nonprofit organization recently, I said: “prepare for the negative.”
It’s a good line; it gets attention and more importantly it encourages thought and preparation before engaging in social media. Whether you’re a small company, a large for-profit entity, a nonprofit or an individual practitioner you need to prepare for the negative and decide what you’re going to do about it when it happens.
Where there’s something to criticize, there will be a critic. It’s not necessarily a bad thing to have critics; valid feedback and constructive criticism can help you make your service and your business better. As an example, see how Domino’s Pizza has used customer feedback in a constructive way to improve their business.
“You can either use negative comments to get you down or you can use them to excite you and energize your process.” — Patrick Doyle, President, Domino’s Pizza.
Here are six ways you can take back lost business by changing the conversation:
1. Listen and respond. Learn what’s being said about your business by using social media monitoring tools, customer surveys, secret shops and focus groups. Find out what the negative is so you can develop a plan to address it.
2. Allow visibility. It’s a huge leap from where we were as a culture in using public relations and the dreaded “spin” to allowing the public to see your downfalls, your weaknesses and mistakes. It is critical to the current culture of customer service that you allow comments on your blog, that you allow customers to interact with you in the places they are online (Facebook, Twitter, etc.)
3. Reward feedback by thanking those who provide it and include them in the conversation of how you can make your service or your products better.
4. Respond to everything – let the public know you’re listening — we often find that people are more polite when they know you’re in the room.
5. Be accessible. Make sure you’re actually available on the social networks you’ve set up — if you have a Twitter account, you must be managing it. Provide your phone number and answer the phone! Provide an e-mail address or a contact form and make sure you’re following up.
6. Share the story of how you took a negative conversation and turned it around. Did you get a bad score on a customer service survey? What did you do to improve? Share the differences with your audiences and they will respect you for making the honest effort.