The idea of Facebook comments complaining or criticising is enough to put some businesses off putting themselves out there. If you have a Facebook page, at some point, you will get a comment or two that shines a light on a pain point for your customer. Negative comments may or may not be justified but if ignored they can become a major headache. Knowing how to manage problems is just as important to building your community as all the fun stuff.
Don’t Take It Personally
Negatively can be tough to deal with, especially if you are running a Facebook page for your own business. You invest emotionally and financially to provide your customer/client with exactly what they want, and to have a problem highlighted in public can be upsetting. It’s easy to misinterpret tone when reading Facebook comments. It can feel as if it being accusatory or aggressive and this may have not been the intention.
Even if the intention is clear, taking it to heart will only upset you and do nothing to solve the problem. Acknowledge the issue the customer is having, and if you are at fault, apologise. Take a breath before writing a response. When you have written it, go for a quick walk around the block or have a cup of tea before you press send.
The knee-jerk reaction of ‘make it go away’ by clicking delete can lead to a demon load of ire being unleashed. Deleting comments demonstrates a disregard for your community. With one click of the mouse an uncomfortable situation for your business can become a PR disaster as Volkswagon found out. Volkswagon deleted Facebook comments criticising their environmental credentials leading to accusations of censorship. The exceptions are Facebook comments that contain swearing or are abusive.
Move The Conversation
Whether the negativity is justified or not you don’t want the to and fro of messages trying to resolve the issue on display. Respond to the comment, apologise if appropriate, and ask if the customer could send you more information or contact details via the direct message. You show the customer and the rest of the community that you are listening and you are going to take action. Being open and responsive helps calm the feelings of frustration and anger.
There is an expectation that Facebook comments will be answered more quickly than those via email. Imagine a frustrated customer festering until you get around to answering their comment. It isn’t going to improve the situation if they wait hours for a response. It doesn’t matter how unrealistic their expectation is that you will be able to solve their issue at 8pm on a Friday night.
A message that you have seen the comment, and you will get back to them during office hours, should be enough for a non critical issue. Set up Facebook auto responders for when you are away from your computer. Email yourself as a reminder for when you are back in the office on Monday morning.
Act Like A Human
Many companies can’t let go of the corporate lingo, responding with messages that are straight out of a handbook. Facebook is a personal platform and a more relaxed tone is expected. People want to feel as if they are being listened to and using stock answers is likely to annoy them further. It’s the equivalent of a recorded message when you are phoning a company, infuriating!
Being prepared with answers to questions that are frequently asked is a sensible policy but add a little personality when using them. Change the content, make it more like a conversation and you will get a better response.
That awful sinking feeling when you know you’ve made a mistake is sickening but we all get it. By admitting a mistake the customer will feel listened to. They may still be unhappy but if you are sincere you have done everything possible to find a solution they should understand.
Ignore the Snarks
Tried to solve an issue but still being bombarded by negative comments? Sounds like you have found yourself a snark. If a customer isn’t accepting the solution the issue is more about them than it is about your business.
Some people are nasty, mean and bitter. Thankfully they are in the minority, but if they take a liking to publicly bashing your business and they have no interest in a resolution there is little you can do. Ignoring them is your best option unless they are offensive or abusive.
These individuals should eventually tire of their personal vendetta or move on to someone’s business where they will get a response. If they persist…
Block Persist Snarks
If you have tried all the possible solutions to dealing with a persistent snark it’s time to consider blocking them. Blocking them can backfire, they could decide to continue the assault by dedicating a Facebook page or group to the campaign. The rallying cry could attract a new audience, this is where it can become nightmarish. Consider it carefully, if they are posting on your timeline it will only be seen by people who visit your page and their friends. Check how influential they are, do they have thousands of friends who will help spread the message?
No business gets it right 100% of the time but deal with a problem well and you can end up with a loyal customer and an advocate for your business.
If you need solutions to your social media questions get in touch and book a coaching session with me, Katherine Salt.