Social Media is the great equalizer. It has bridged the once enormous gap of brand to consumer with customers now able to get in touch with their favorite companies in the matter of 140 characters. It’s truly amazing that we no longer really have to sit on hold for 45 minutes to air a grievance or get ahold of a customer service representative. Gone are the days (for the most part) of sending a letter to a company and never knowing if they’re going to get it or not. No. Now, with the simple flick of a wrist and a microblogging platform, people from all walks of life are able to publicly berate a brand for all the world to see… or to whomever might be following that person on Twitter.
Let’s face it, though. We are all way more prone to sending out Tweets to a company when they fail to meet even the smallest of our expectations. Say Taco Bell cheats you out of the right amount of lettuce on your Cheesy Gordita. Get to Twitter and let them know. Or did your Frontier Airlines flight depart 4 minutes past the scheduled time? Open fire on the Tweet box. Remember, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, truncate it to 140 characters and let it fly on Twitter.” Now, more than ever before, companies and brands have to be on the defensive, which is why a good Social Media Manager and surrounding team has become so important. But if you’re without a social team, here are a few ways to deal with the negative Tweets aimed at you.
“First off, should I even respond?”
This is where a discerning taste and basic understanding of Twitter comes into play. But ultimately, yes, you should respond. Even if all you want to do is vanish from the face of the Earth or set fire to the face on fire (obscure reference for the day), you have to respond. Read the Tweet thoroughly, which shouldn’t take long, but try reading it a couple of times, with different intonations, and understand the comment. If you’re angry, take a few breaths, maybe get outside for a walk, and compose yourself. The worst thing you can do is respond brashly and risk opening up an ever larger can of worms all of whom with spit vitriol at you.
“I’ve calmed down. Now how should I respond?”
Once you’re composed and ready to deal with the situation like a grownup, respond. You’ll want to decide whether this comment is a legitimate complaint or just a bored person trolling Twitter trying to be as nasty as possible. You should have different responses for both.
For the trolls and haters throwing negative Tweets at you for the sake of doing so, make them know their voice has been heard, and leave it at that. No need to engage further.
Sample Tweet: @TrollHaterOMG: “Yo @YourBrand, you might as well jump off a cliff us suck LOLZ.”
Response: “@TrollHaterOMG. Thanks for the insight.”
For customers with legitimate complaints and grievances, more thought has to be put into the response.
Sample Tweet: @FacelessNameless: “@YourBrand Your sales people are the WORST! I will not be returning to your store EVER and will tell everyone to shop elsewhere.”
Response: “@FacelessNameless We are very sorry to hear! Please contact us via DM and let us know all the details. We want to make sure you’re happy.”
For legitimate negative Tweets such as this, take the conversation offline as quick as possible. Engage with the customer and encourage them to contact you by other means to right the wrong. Many times, people who leave these sorts of comments do not expect the brand to ever respond. So when you do, and try to win back their business, they will be surprised and receptive to what you have to say.
Nine times out of ten, your response will be enough to quell any customer complaint, because, really, those who complain on social media are just looking to be heard. To let them know their voice is powerful will give them a sense of worth and a better view and opinion of your company.