Social media is a great tool for connecting with customers, but it can also be a gateway to disaster. Because news can go viral in the blink of an eye, it is important that you respond quickly and decisively at the first hint of trouble. An inadequate response to a legitimate complaint can rapidly transform a minor problem into a full-blown social media crisis.
1. Be Prepared – Create a formal response plan, so that in the heat of the moment you aren’t scrambling to figure out what to do. The flowchart to the right is an example of a basic response plan for dealing with complaints or negative posts. Make sure your employees understand their responsibilities during a social media crisis.
2. Act Quickly – Social media moves fast. If you don’t get ahead of the situation, you could face more problems down the road from additional dissatisfied customers. Try to respond to a problem within 24 hours; a longer delay could give the impression that you are indifferent or don’t take the situation seriously. The faster your response comes, the better your company looks.
3. Watch Your Tone – Tone matters. For example, if you use caps lock to emphasize certain words, your audience may interpret it as yelling or appearing irritated. Likewise, if you are overly formal and show absolutely no emotion in your response, you could be perceived as uncaring and bored. And of course, never use derogatory language, even if the person attacking you does so in an unprofessional fashion.
4. Follow Through – If you propose a solution, make sure you follow through on your promise. Designate an employee to monitor the process through its eventual resolution.