Imagine Googling the name of your business to find a top ranked news stories with the headline Café calls mum ‘racist’ and ‘a**hole’ for online review.
Well, that’s now the situation for one Brisbane café after a social media stoush with a customer over a high chair escalated into a national and international news story.
Putting aside the ‘he said – she said’ aspect of this particular story, it’s illustrative of how businesses ought not to handle customer feedback or complaints.
It shows how something that most people might think is trivial can quickly escalate into a potentially reputation shredding online spectacle.
Sure, business owners might not like to receive poor reviews or negative comments on their social media pages. Particularly so if they feel the negativity is unwarranted.
But as this recent example shows, things can get a whole lot worse if business owners lose their cool online. The good news is this kind of thing can usually be easily avoided.
Reviews and feedback are an opportunity – even if negative
The way in which a business responds to complaints can help or hinder its brand reputation. Businesses should see feedback or even criticism as an opportunity to demonstrate that you value your customers and their feedback.
Acknowledge the customer’s complaint. It may or may not be warranted, but acknowledging the issue is the first step.
There may be valid reasons that something is as the way it is. Take the opportunity to explain a why something may have happened, or the reason for a particular company policy, decision or outcome.
Keep it factual and respectful.
Play it straight
It is best to avoid humour, quirky responses or sarcasm when responding to a customer complaint. It doesn’t always translate well online, plus the customer is already aggrieved and unlikely to see the funny side.
Today’s outrage culture can see even the most harmless joke or comment turned into a major scandal. It’s best not to risk it.
Say sorry – if it’s warranted – and offer to rectify
Decide whether the complaint warrants an apology and say sorry. Offer to rectify the issue and get more information.
Take it offline
Provide an email address or phone number where the person can contact you directly, so that the issue can be resolved. Most people are far more reasonable when dealing directly with someone over the phone.
Social media disinhibition can bring out the worst in people.
Remember: the internet is forever
Everything you say on social media can be held against you. Business owners should use common sense and be very careful about what they say.
Even if you delete a post or tweet, be aware that the customer or anyone else following the comment thread, could take a screenshot and share it with their connections, or the media.
Much of what passes for ‘reporting’ these days is screen caps taken from Facebook and Twitter interspersed with commentary about the content of the posts. Don’t risk becoming the next ‘social media outrage’ story.
Prevention is better than cure
Don't let a social media faux pas do real damage to your precious reputation. At Elevate, we can help you with social media policies, content calendars and online issues management to help you avoid a damaging social media stoush or online brawl. Get in touch today.