In December last year, India crossed 100 million Internet users landmark out of which over 50% users are “active users”. Over 40% of Indian internet users regularly participated in social networks. Facebook alone has over 43 million Indian users on its network. If your brand has been using social media to acquire customers, you’ve also got to be ready for the flipside of it.
Your brand on social media can be exposed to negative feedback at any point by anyone for any reason. Not only will you be have to be transparent about your customer service processes online but also be courteous to the entity that has posted the negative feedback about you. Companies like ICICI Bank, Airtel, Virgin Mobile India, Tata Motors, Infosys, HDFC Bank, GM India and United Spirits amongst many others have already implemented special teams for their Online Relationship Management (ORM). Let’s take a look at how you can deal with negative feedback and comments online.
Take this chance to show off that you’re an open brand
Getting a negative review is a golden chance of letting everyone else in the network know what a courteous, quick and reliable company you are. The minute you respond to negative feedback with a solution based approach, you will have already won the hearts of many other customers who are simply watching on. Don’t subvert your own rule of using social media for more number of people to know about your brand. Not servicing one negative comment may come and bite you in the back by harming your reputation. HT reports a case of a non-Tata Photon user who started receiving data usage bills on his name. He tweeted about the same to Tata Photon. They promised to do something about it, but in vain. This could have been a brilliant opportunity for Tata Photon to act on the grievance and build a solid brand image.
"If a brand stands true to its promise, consumers will not go on the social media to vent their frustration."
– Sanjeev Aggarwal, Senior MD, Helion [Source]
Asses the type of feedback before reacting
Negative feedback about your product or service may not always be a bad thing. You first need to assess the type of negative feedback you get before you plunge into deleting it or responding to it in haste. You can either have constructive criticism, a comment about how the customer is not being able to use your product / service effectively, negative spam feedback or a deserved attack – which is genuine anger on the part of the customer for getting bad customer service or any other experience that they might have had with your brand.
Once the type of negative feedback is assessed, you will have better clarity as to what priority your response should get, how you should respond and whether you should respond at all or not.
Display a courteous response publicly and later connect with the customer privately
The art of dealing with negative feedback lies in how you can convert it into positivity for your brand and win a customer. Always stay positive in your response and use phrases like "Thanks for bringing this to our attention" or "We will get back to you with a solution in the next 2-3 business days" and so on. Do not attempt to justify your brand at the very upfront. And if you think the aggrieved is serious and ranting with anger, take the conversation ahead personally though a message or an email.
"We acknowledge each complaint and try to get all the details from the customer. If there is a quick response that can resolve the complaint, it is provided immediately. If further investigation is required, we get out service and customer care teams involved."
– Jnaneswar Sen, Senior VP, Sales and Marketing, Honda SIEL Cars India [Source]
Invite and ask for more positive feedback
Just like you invite your colleagues, ex-employers and other connections to write recommendations for you on your LinkedIn page, you can do the same for your brand on your social media pages too. The best way to combat negative feedback for your brand is to have as much positive feedback on your page as possible. A few negative comments for your brand online amongst a dozen positive comments vouching how great your product / service is tends to create a genuine balance of believability for a user. Also, a user will be forced to believe all the positive reviews for your brand rather than the negative ones.
"The engagement with our customers, till date, has been positive and helped us in improving our processes. These interactions serve as a catalyst in further strengthening our product and service offerings."
– Gowri Mukherjee, Senior VP and Head of E-Business, (Internet & Mobile) Citibank India. [Source]
Be quick in your response – whatever it might be
Social media and smartphones leave no space to make a delay in your response to a customer’s query or negative feedback. Whichever style and type of response you may choose simply make sure that you’re quick. Being tardy will only aggravate more negative feedback. This would also have ripple effects for your brand since many onlookers would be watching. Even if you may take 4-5 days to process the query or the negative feedback, make sure you publicly post up a note that that you have acknowledged the feedback and will respond within a few days.
TOI reports a case of a Jaipur based consultant Amit Agarwal who purchased a Dell laptop which crashed within the first week. Agarwal complained to the company’s service centre many times, but in vain. After almost 8 months, he filed a complaint on Akosha, an online forum that helps Indian consumers to get their complaints against companies resolved quickly. Immediately, Dell India sent engineers to Agarwal’s home and the problem was solved.
Whatever, the case might be – One of the worst things you can do is to ignore a negative feedback online, it always has a potential to harm your company or brand in a very big way!