Social Media – Comments, Complaints, and Observations
Navigating social media can be a challenge for even the savviest Social Media Manager, so it is not hard to imagine how much more difficult the task becomes for a small business owner trying to manage it all: running a business, creating original content for the company’s social media channels, and monitoring and responding to customer comments and complaints! Most of you likely experience this already, and some of you may even use helpful products from HootSuite or Buffer to schedule posts to your social channels. What you post and when is important for sure, but even more impactful and critical to your brand is how you respond to customer comments and complaints. When and how you respond sets the tone and expectation for your brand. Being visible and interactive at the right time is critical to social success.
When to Reply and When to Observe
Social media is always on. People are interacting with your brand twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, and in ways you may or may not have anticipated. That’s what makes social media exciting and fun! But how do you keep up with all of the activity? When should you respond to comments and complaints and when should you be a quiet observer in the organic conversation about your brand? When to reply and when to simply observe is an art form in an of itself. You don’t want to respond to every comment or post about your brand, but failing to respond to questions or comments can certainly harm you. So, how do you decide when to respond? The answer for me is relatively straightforward. The rule of thumb I use is: reply to any comment or complaint directed at Essential. I respond, no matter what. If someone is asking a direct question or has a direct complaint with Essential, we reply as soon as we are aware of the comment or complaint. If the question or comment is directed toward the community that follows Essential, we let the conversation emerge organically. If an organic response doesn’t emerge, we will reply to customers directly through messaging or email.
How To Best Reply to Comments and Complaints
Customers generally ask questions that are relevant and interesting to the larger community. Comments that are vague or easy to answer are also easy to respond to! It takes little effort to tell someone what your hours are, or how to order from your website. Chances are that others probably have the same questions. When customers ask more specific questions, it can get a little muddy. If a customer has a question or complaint that isn’t specific to their situation, I respond directly and publicly so that others can see the conversation trail. Posting publicly allows anyone else experiencing the same questions or complaints to easily get an answer. If the situation is specific or unusual, I ask the customer if I can contact them directly. This allows me to help the customer with their specific issue without bogging down the larger community with irrelevant information. The important takeaway here is that a response–no matter if it is a request to take the conversation private or a direct response to a question or complaint–is required. The worst thing you can do is to not respond at all. No response tells the customer and the community that you don’t care about their problem or feedback! If you are unable to answer the question or complaint, reply to let them know that you are working on a solution. It’s not unusual for me to ask my customer to send me their contact information privately so that I can reply directly.
What are your strategies and thoughts about responding to customers via social media? We’d love to hear about how you address these issues!