Ignoring or deleting complaints on social media sites can do your business more harm than good, one communications expert has claimed.
Having a social media presence is considered almost mandatory for most businesses. However, when complaints are posted on a public forum the first step is to keep calm, according to Allison Lee, managing director of Impact Communications.
“Research shows 84 per cent of real estate agents use social media, but only 55 per cent of agents feel comfortable about it," she said.
“In today’s world, differing opinions are easily heard, and we all need to be prepared for people to disagree with us. Assess the criticism in light of how damaging it is.
“It might feel like a huge crisis, but chances are, it isn’t. Equally, you need to be realistic about the impact of a comment.”
The second step is to acknowledge the complaint, even with a simple note that you will be back shortly with more information.
“Acknowledge the complaint, be it on a Facebook group, on a blog or a forum. People expect a response on social media," said Ms Lee.
“Often they are using social media because traditional customer service channels have failed. Always acknowledge the complaint, even if it is just by way of a holding statement.
“Consumers and clients expect a fast response on social media. No longer can we ponder our response. We need to respond quickly, but most importantly, we need to avoid knee-jerk reactions.
“A poorly planned, hasty response can inflame a situation. Take the time to get the facts straight and to understand where the issue has come from.”
Ms Lee’s number-one tip is never to remove a complaint.
“Removing posts is the cardinal sin of social media,” she claimed.
"In social media, it’s considered a breach of trust.
“Generally, you will be better to allow a post to remain with your acknowledgement than to remove it.
“But of course there are exceptions to every rule. If the post is defamatory, take it off or contact the site administrator.”
Ms Lee believes it’s important to have a policy around social media so staff can deal with issues as they arise.
“Plan ahead for negative comments by creating a social media policy and plan," she advised. "A simple traffic light system codes comments as green, amber or red. Green is non-issue and can be easily resolved. Amber requires some input from management, or even a prepared response. Red needs to be escalated fast and taken offline.
"Make sure you train your staff in its use so they all know how to respond.”