As a small business owner you are likely chief, cook and bottle washer. Adding social media maven to your job titles probably seems like a headache but, like it or not, if you have a product or service that people use then people are going to talk about you for good or bad. And when it’s bad it’s best to tackle it right away or the consequences can be dire. Several surveys taken recently indicate that an ignored or slow response to a negative comment on Directories, Facebook or Twitter results in a loss of confidence in a company. One study found that “every complaint which is left unanswered, and every minute it sits on the page threatens the future business possibilities of  9 out of 10 page visitors…” These visitors also state they are less likely to visit a company that didn’t take social and online customer service seriously.

Another survey (my mother told me I should have gone into surveys) reported 25% of customers expect a response within an hour, and 6% expect a response within 10 minutes. Oddly enough, customers didn’t expect the same speed of response when posting on the company’s own website.

Confronting negative comments on social media sites and any online medium doesn’t have to be a crisis. It’s the public nature of the forum that makes company representatives seize up and quiver. It’s difficult to remember to treat the social media audience as individual human beings who have had a less than satisfactory experience with products or services. Keep in mind that the vast majority of unhappy customers simply want their problems resolved. So as a small business owner how do you manage negative comments?

First off remember to be a fellow human. Respond with sincerity, honesty and make a commitment to resolve the issue.

Offer an alternative form of communication. An email address or phone number takes the issue off the social forum and you can communicate more effectively.

Never delete customer complaints. This can really cheese off your social community. If a comment is profane or abusive you may consider crafting a response outlining your social policy of not allowing offensive comments to remain on your page while being fully agreeable to engaging in a civilized discourse and then remove it.

Use this as an opportunity to learn and be visible about it.

Thank your community for their comments and answer with how you will use them to improve your products or service.

Don’t take the comments personally. They are almost always NOT personal. With the economy being what it is customers are very careful with their money and feel especially angry if that money seems to have been wasted or they believe they’ve been deceived.

Remember to thank your customers consistently. Don’t wait for a bad situation to pay attention to them. One of the surveys (I really should have gone into surveys) states that after a positive response to an unhappy comment 33% of them turned around and posted a positive review after that, and 34% of them deleted the negative review that they had left earlier.

For more advice about how social media and online directories can impact your small business call the professionals at Turn The Page Online Marketing. We can show you how to use the power of social media to improve your customer relations and increase sales.




Author Amanda Hall

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