It’s not uncommon for us to come to a new client with our analysis and for them to be incredibly concerned about the uncertainty of public response. The most common concern raised by big companies is that by having an open to the public forum or comments system, they’re risking that people will post negative reviews or stories about their products or brands.
What we try to convince the client of at this point is that negative comments are a good thing. Why? Well, there are two main reasons for this.
The first main reason is that opening a direct dialogue with an dissatisfied customer is excellent market research. The beauty of social media is that it gives you the opportunity to discuss issues with customers as peers in a way that makes them feel like they can in fact be heard. And — perhaps even more beautiful — you can actually hear them. Listening to your unhappy customers or users gives you clear data on how to reverse the situation. You can empathise. You can take action. Without providing this opportunity to talk to you directly, you have no way of chasing down the customer and fixing whatever made him or her upset.
And that brings us to the second main reason. When you have a public dialogue with a negative commenter, this is a good opportunity to demonstrate to the rest of your following and audience that you are a company that:
B) Is concerned about the individual customer
C) Is able to resolve problems in a friendly and professional manner
You’d be surprised how far a simple conversation like that can go! The jackpot is that you’ve not only earned back a potential customer for life, but a true brand advocate. And because you had the discussion in public, on social media (instead of via email, or on telephone, or in a room behind closed doors) that story can be re-told by any number of witnesses who read the thread in their web browsers or smartphone apps. Each of those persons becomes a storyteller who will speak about your service and exceptional care the next time they find themselves in a similar discussion over dinner with friends. Here’s how that usually sounds like:
“What? I can’t believe they’d do that and not even apologise. You know, that happened to me, but *insert your company name here* saw my message on Facebook and made it right within days.”
It’s instant positive PR in an age where traditional PR draws nothing but scepticism. Nothing is more inherently viral and positive word of mouth generating than kindness.