If your business is active on social media channels like Twitter (and it should be!), you can’t expect things to be completely positive all the time. You’re likely to receive a negative comment sooner or later. You may feel as though the negativity is unjustified, or you might know that you made a mistake and the customer has a right to be upset. Either way, you’ll need a plan in place to respond appropriately.
Read on to see a few excellent brand responses to negative customer comments on Twitter and discover what you can learn from them.
First: what not to do
There are a few things you absolutely shouldn’t do when it comes to handling negative social media comments. They are:
- Ignore them completely. This shows disrespect to the customer and is likely to anger them further as well as making your brand look bad to other prospective customers who see the exchange.
- Delete the comments or block the sender, unless they are being abusive, violent, or threatening.
- Argue with the customer and tell them they’re wrong.
With what not to do out of the way, let’s look at what you should do.
5 excellent brand responses to negative tweets
1. Allen Solly
Inevitably, the people who run your social media channels will make a mistake like a typo at some point. Customers love to point it out when brands make these kinds of mistakes, and enjoy being the first one to spot the error. It’s important to remember that most of the time, they are poking fun in jest but do not mean it as serious criticism.
Allen Solly, an Indian fashion brand, misspelt “coming soon” as “comming soon” on a billboard advertising a new product. A member of the public spotted the sign, took a picture, and posted it on Twitter. Allen Solly responded quickly:
The company owned up to its (ultimately completely harmless) error, and responded with humour and playfulness, making fun of itself. It also gently mocks the standard “this has been escalated to higher levels” school of social media apology. The result is funny and memorable.
What can you learn from this? Don’t take yourself too seriously! If a customer brings a serious issue to your attention, trying to play it off as a joke would be a mistake. But small mistakes can be handled with humour and irreverence.
Pro tip: want to avoid embarrassing typos before you press the “publish” button? Use a spelling and grammar checker to help you. But when one does slip through the net, don’t be afraid to acknowledge your error with good grace and a dash of humour.
2. National Trust South East
When customers are paying a premium for something, they expect to get quality. That’s why this customer at National Trust South East in the UK was unimpressed by her very lacklustre £3.95 ($5.25) sandwich, and took to Twitter to complain about it:
Fortunately, the brand responded quickly and offered to make things right by giving the customer a free treat to make up for it.
Giving out freebies isn’t always the right response to customers who complain, of course. But in situations like this, it can go a long way towards smoothing over the situation and retaining the customer’s business. When considering whether or not to offer a freebie by way of an apology, weigh up the cost of giving something away against the cost of potentially losing that customer’s business for good (and risking a negative review!)
3. Royal Bank of Canada
Sometimes, it may be too late to salvage a relationship with a customer. You may not be aware there is a problem until they are announcing their intention to stop using your brand and go elsewhere. That’s what happened in this case, when an unimpressed customer announced to RBC that he was going to move his accounts to a competitor:
Despite the customer announcing his intention to leave and take his business elsewhere, the brand still shows compassion, empathy, and a willingness to help. It is unclear whether the company retained the customer in this instance, as no further communication was publicly visible, but it is a stellar response either way.
When a customer makes a negative statement about your brand in this way, it can be tempting to either shrug it off and ignore it, or become defensive. But in fact, a genuine and sympathetic response can go a long way and might even turn the customer’s perception of you around!
If a customer can’t find what they’re looking for in your online store, they might simply go elsewhere. On the other hand, if you’re lucky they might ask you for help on social media and give you an opportunity to help them find the perfect purchase.
That’s what happened recently when a customer was searching for a specific item of clothing on sports retailer Nike’s website:
This is a fantastic example of a brand going above and beyond to help a customer. The customer service representative could have simply linked to a product page for the appropriate items. But instead, by offering to help the customer find the perfect item by size, location, and style, Nike offers a highly personalized service.
The lesson? Take the time to help your customers on a one-to-one basis. If you go beyond the call of duty to assist them in finding the right thing, they’ll remember that and remain loyal to your brand for a very long time.
Coffee giant Starbucks is known for being highly responsive and engaging with its audience on social media.
This might seem like a fairly standard reply to a tweet from a disappointed customer. However, what escalates this to the level of an excellent response is the sentence “I’d be frustrated too”. The customer service representative is showing empathy here, putting themselves in the customer’s shoes and mirroring the frustration back to them. Empathy is always a winning strategy – say (and show) that you understand how your upset customer feels.
The other thing to pay attention to here is the fact that Starbucks had replied to the customer in less than five minutes. That’s seriously impressive! While you probably don’t have a social media team to rival Starbucks’, you should always aim to respond to social media mentions – positive and negative – as quickly as possible. According to a study by Napoleoncat, 42% of customers expect a brand to respond to them on social media in 60 minutes or less.
Turning negatives into positives
If there’s one thing I have learned in the years I’ve been running my business, it’s that every negative is an opportunity to learn something. Whenever something doesn’t go completely to plan, you can take a lesson away from the situation and do something differently next time.
When it comes to negative feedback from customers, you actually have an opportunity to turn a negative into a positive. If you give a timely and appropriate response that addresses the issue well, you have a chance to keep the customer on your side as well as showing your professionalism to anyone who happens to be watching.
Handling negative tweets in the right way comes with practice. You need to balance the customer’s needs with what is reasonable and cost-effective for your business to offer. You also need to make sure your responses are genuine, on-brand, and centre your core company values.
It’s never fun to receive a negative comment on social media. But remember – it’s not personal. Occasional customer complaints are just part of doing business. If you respond well, you’ll be seen as customer-focused, ethical, and trustworthy. So use these examples as inspiration, and you’ll be ready to handle any negative comments you get like a pro!
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