Note: A version of this post appeared in this week’s Think Like a Rock Star newsletter. If you would like to subscribe, click here.
Last week when I was in Nashville something interesting happened: I was primarily in town to talk about Think Like a Rock Star with the Nashville chapter of the AMA at their monthly luncheon. But earlier that morning, I briefly spoke to a group of about a dozen CMOs.
It was interesting to hear the feedback from both groups. After the lunchtime presentation, some people wanted to talk about how to find and connect with their fans, many people loved the case studies, some people wanted to talk about creating more engaging content. In other words, there were plenty of themes that resonated with the audience, and areas that they felt they needed help with.
But the group of CMOs were focused on one key area: They wanted help in dealing with customers that were using social media tools to say negative things about them or even attack their brands online.
I *love* this topic because I believe it’s so misunderstood by many companies. The first thing to realize is that the vast majority of the time when a customer says something negative about your brand, it’s not because she wants to cause your brand harm, it’s because she wants your brand to respond to her! That’s it. She’s tried calling your customer support line and she was put on hold for 15 mins, then hung up on. She emailed your support department yesterday, and has never heard back. She’s tried the ‘normal’ channels to get your brand to help her, and she’s gotten no response. So she does the only thing she knows to do next: She’s turned to social media to bitch about you, hoping that it will get your attention!
That’s typically how it goes. Granted, sometimes people DO want to start trouble for your brand, and sometimes customers DO attack your brand just to see what you will give them to shut them up, but these instances are the exception.
So how can you plan TODAY to better deal with a customer ‘attack’ that might be coming tomorrow?
First, you need this:
Start connecting with your fans. You want your fans to be more engaged with you, you want them participating and interacting with you on your social media sites. There are countless reasons why this benefits your brand, but for the purposes of this topic it’s this: Your fans are the ‘guard dog’. If I am a person that TRULY wants to come to your Facebook page and cause a stink, seeing that you have several fans that LOVE your brand commenting and engaging there, scares me off. Why? Because your fans will come to your defense if someone shows up trying to start trouble. So if I am there to pick a fight with your brand, I don’t want to fight with your fans. So if your fans are ‘guarding the yard’, I will move on. Think of your fans as your ‘Social Media Home Security System’.
Second, you need to create a plan for dealing with customer complaints. The starting point is to assess why the person is complaining. This helps you determine if the person is truly a disgruntled customer that needs your help, or a troll that’s just there to kick sand all over the place. The disgruntled customer will typically talk about their experience, what went wrong, how they tried previously to resolve the issue, and could not, etc. The troll will typically talk about your brand in more general terms, accuse you of not supporting Belief A or Agenda X, of creating a product that destroys the environment in Area B of the world, etc. BTW the disgruntled customer should not be confused with ‘I want a freebie’, as these are trolls in disguise that think if they complain about you that you will offer them a freebie to shut them up.
The idea is, you want to give the actual customers the service they need and deserve, and not waste time on the trolls. And again, the odds are you will rarely, if ever encounter a troll. Especially if you have engaged with your fans and they are actively ‘in your yard’.
So if you currently need help dealing with angry customers ‘in your social media yard’, then I have three options to help you:
1 – Subscribe to the Think Like a Rock Star newsletter for free. It’s a weekly newsletter and one of the most common topics we tackle is dealing with negative comments from customers online. Click here to subscribe.
2 – Read Chapter Six of Think Like a Rock Star (click here to order it on Amazon). The entire chapter is devoted to properly handling negative comments with multiple case studies from brands that did a great job of handling customer complaints, and a few that did not. It walks you through the exact steps you should take to respond to unsatisfied customers in order to convert them into passionate fans. The book costs $15 currently on Amazon, and this chapter alone is well worth that price.
3 – Hire me to help you deal with upset customers online. I can work with you to craft a plan and strategy for handling future negative feedback you encounter from customers, as well as help you tackle current issues you might be facing. I can also be available ‘on call’ to help you handle future issues that pop up that require your attention quickly. Email me to discuss your exact needs and the help I can provide you.