Feedback. Negative comments. Positive reviews. It seems that all of our digital media can revolve around good or bad comments on our sites.
What happens when you directly (i.e. face to face) receive a compliment or acknowledgement of a job well done? You usually thank the person and continue your conversation. It does not matter how public the place was that the compliment or acknowledgment was given
What happens if you receive an insult, negative comment or otherwise bad feedback in the same situation? Do you laugh it off, get angry and reply in kind, or swallow your reaction and walk away? Some of your reaction will depend on where you are when the comment is made. Are you in a large meeting or social setting, in your office, or in a one to one meeting? The more public the location, the more defensive you are likely to be. Defensiveness is commonly expressed through aggression, humour, denial, passivity and probably a range of other emotions.
Comments received in your digital media forums are all very public locations, open to everyone and have the potential to be seen by a vast audience (potential customers). Positive comments and feedback are easily accepted, thanked and shared to your customers, team members and associates. They are quite often used for customer testimonials. Negative comments and feedback are ones that a business owner may instinctively want to hide / delete or ignore.
Some forums,for example, Trip Advisor, do not give a property the luxury of removing a negative review, however one sided the owner may feel the review is. But, and this is important, you can respond. Your potential customers will read the review and will also most likely read your response. If you have responded appropriately and fairly, then your potential customer may not dismiss your property out of hand, you may get another chance.
Website, Facebook, Twitter comments can be easily removed but again, it may be better to respond to those comments to provide a balanced view of your business. It allows your potential customer to see how you handle good with bad.
How do you respond? To put it simply, as politely as you can – this is a public forum and everything, yes everything, you say will reflect on your business. The format is the same as any complaint handling procedure.
- Acknowledge the complaint / comment
- Thank them for bringing the item to your attention
- Tell them what you will do to or change to ensure that there is not a reoccurrence of the issue
- If the comment refers to something that cannot be changed e.g. bad weather or the journey, then a combination of humour and polite facts can be used to answer the comment. You, as a business, cannot change the weather, the road, their transport method or whatever the ‘problem’ was. Acknowledge the comment and move on
- If a comment refers to something that is not likely to change e.g. decor / fixtures/ fittings, then you need to have a well practised response that fits with your overall marketing strategy
- Offer the customer a means of contacting you outside of the public forum
- Follow up, make this as personal as you are able, let them know that the thing you have said you will do, has been done.
- Invite that customer back to experience the change /s made in your business. You do not necessarily have to provide anything free, it will depend on the initial complaint, your response and what your business feels is suitable recompense (if anything).
Profanities, personal attacks, or other inappropriate posts (identified as trolls) should be removed immediately. These type of posts are nuisance posts and have no place in your digital space. Persistent ‘trolls’ should be reported to appropriate administration of the media application. It is best not to dignify these type of comments with a reply.
Responding to your feedback and comments are yet another way of keeping the conversation going with your customers and potential customers. It is relevant because this is what your customers are concerned about, it is relevant because your potential customers want to be assured that you acknowledge and respond to problems.
Responding to your online feedback and comments extend your customer service and continues the engagement with your digital community. Your customers know you and your business better and should lead to higher trust levels of you and your business. In a nutshell, this is what your digital marketing strategy should be all about – relevance, engagement, connection, and building trust; guiding your customers to confidently purchase from you and recommend you to their networks.
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