The Steps to Your Brand’s Reputation Repair: Part 2

Did a negative Tweet spread like wildfire across multiple social media outlets, you haven’t responded since it was posted 4 hours ago, and now you think your company is doomed for failure? In case you were wondering, ¼ of people share their negative experiences via social media and more than half of Tweeters expect a response in under an hour. But don’t panic just yet. Here are 6 steps to remedy the situation and retain your customer.

  1. Track the Chatter and Get to the Source

    You may have read a customer’s negative comment via Twitter, but did it start there? It may be difficult (95% of brand mentions are irrelevant to customer service), but you need to drill into that 5%. Check all of your monitored mediums and review sites to track that customers experience with your business and explore how that crisscrosses with other comments and experiences. Fully understanding a person’s ups and downs as your customer will help you respond in the best way possible. That way you can respond with, “I see you’ve been purchasing our (insert product here), so I’m very sorry that you are now unhappy with (insert product here)…” Knowing a negative comment’s history will allow you to respond to the particular person effectively, and also allowing you to reply on every outlet so your reputation is revived wholly.

  2. Evaluate the Situation and Appropriate Action

    Besides unfavorable tweets, you could have an employee who accidentally Facebooked a personal status on the company account, or an ex-employee who’s on a biased rant. Your response of resolution will depend on the circumstances, so make sure the right person is making the right move with a customer complaint, while making sure that the resolution is cohesive to your brand’s culture. Is a customer having IT trouble? Your creative director probably can’t answer their question. Does your customer know you have a no-questions-asked return policy? The person that responds should know that and follow suit. Maybe your CEO needs to apologize for an insensitive picture. As mentioned in Part 1, putting together a crisis management team will help you avoid a lot of struggling to save face. Appropriating the right employee to the job and making sure they’re well versed in what your business’s policies are will make a world of difference.

  3. Take Responsibility and Be Personal

    As explained in Part 1, life is 90% of how you react to situations that come your way – especially when it comes to the negative ones. Never take a comment as a personal offense (although it may feel like someone just insulted your life’s work), especially if someone’s complaint is unfounded or just meant to cause a stir. A sincere apology is always in order, as well as taking responsibility for the dissatisfaction. Do this in the most personal way possible ¬– no one wants to deal with a robot when they have a problem, although their complaint may be digital. A direct approach using the information you obtained when tracking the source of the dissatisfaction demonstrates integrity and appreciation for a consumer’s business, as well as the desire to retain it. A ‘don’t’ example is Home Depot’s response after their racially offensive Super Bowl tweet pic – they used the same apology for each complaining tweet. If 10 (or hundreds and thousands, in Home Depot’s case) people tweeted that they were unhappy with the same product, don’t copy and paste the same apology to everyone; you may have cut corners but you also cut customers.

  4. Fight Fire With Google

    A bad rep can snowball on social media, but also move to sites like Employ your technical savvy skills to really nip social media blunders in the bud, wherever they may show up. If your company qualifies for a Wikipedia page, place one, as they naturally appear first in search results. Need another reason to have a LinkedIn profile? They are highly ranked on search results as well. The most effective way to create content that pushes negativity down is to use the search word key term(s) of the negative content and focus on image-centric updates (thanks, Pinterest and Instagram). If it’s a large issue, like a defective product due to a manufacturing malfunction, use those words to create blog posts, PowerPoint presentations, press releases, and other updates with impressive photos that direct back to your website, so that Google recognizes it as genuine content and places it at the top of the search list. Pushing this content through social media will give you an even bigger boost – that way all of your content is pushed to the forefront.

  5. Take the Conversation Offline

    Instead of simply commenting ‘Sorry’ as a reply on Yelp or throwing a coupon at a naysayer, address each person directly and offer a phone number or e-mail to discuss and remedy the situation with a manager or employee with the circumstance’s category of expertise. Most customers didn’t post their negative comment just to be negative – they want a solution to their problem. Talking things out in a direct way will allow each party to fully understand the issue and the appropriate solution. This is where your crisis team comes in. Although this may take time and effort, it’s worth it – 90% of upset customers can be retained with excellent customer care.

  6. Evaluate, Grow, and Prepare

    After a negative situation is attended to, track how your approach affected business in the long run. Staying informed will give you perspective on how to handle certain situations and then you can fine-tune it to effectively provide excellent customer service while following your brand’s guidelines, turn a negative experience into a positive one, and improve your products and services. This way, you’ll always be prepared for the next crisis.

Want to avoid scrambling to fix future social media disasters? Only 36% of consumers have their issues solved quickly and effectively on social media. Don’t be one of them. Prepare and manage your rep with a few reminders from Part 1:

  • Monitor: Have all of your social media outlet ducks in a row by assigning a crisis management team to monitor every account and keep up on Google alerts to keep your company in the know about negativity.
  • Employ Procedure and Automation: A game plan is always in order. Set up a step-by-step process for response, and if possible, automatically forward certain complaints to the appropriate experts.
  • Be Prompt: timing is everything. Respond to complaints within hours, or preferably less than one.
  • Amp Up the Positive: Recognize and thank positive reviews as well as the negative. Drawing attention to compliments, in addition to constant updating, will boost them on search results, and push the negative ones down.
  • Focus on Humanization: This can’t be harped on enough: be down to earth, genuine, and personal. Treat each consumer and situation as a person, not an asset.


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