“Disaster gave me two things: a moment to react and a decision to overcome” – Michael Dooley, NYTimes Bestselling Author and Entrepreneur.
It reminded me of an increasing number of stories of epic social media fails that happen from people who forget they’re on a global network, or from people who should just steer clear of social media.
The particular one that stands out, which I included in my book and still use on training courses today, comes from the beautiful city of Bath, in the West of England. The story goes like this…
In February 2014, a woman visited a deli in Bath for a cake and coffee. After her visit, she left the following feedback on the deli’s Facebook page: “The cakes looked amazing and I wanted to try every single one BUT the cakes were on very open display with every customer essentially leaning over them to order.” She added “”So, all the cakes were getting breathed on (or worse) by every single passing person, plus the staff. Which is a crying shame as they really did look extremely good. But due to the above, we just had coffee.”
The sensible response from the deli would have been to accept the feedback as it was intended, i.e. constructive and good natured, and respond with words such as “Thank you for your feedback which we’ve taken on board and have now bought covers for the cakes. We hope you come back and try them soon.”
However, they decided against that type of response and – rather unbelievably – went with “Please don’t come back – your feedback is b*****ks! You would need to be a midget with the neck of a giraffe to be able to breathe over them – stupid woman!”
The Deli only had a few hundred Facebook page fans, but this did not stop the fall out that followed, with the story – and the reputation of the deli – being laid bare in the national media the following day, including the Daily Mail, one of the largest news sites in the UK.
As the customer who originally posted rightly stated in a later comment “Customers are entitled to have an opinion and if you set up a FB page and invite reviews, you can’t expect every single one to be a 5.”
As of February 2017, this particularly deli has now ceased trading. Although I’m not implying that these are the reasons.
So, what do you do if you are on the receiving end of a negative Facebook post or comment? The most important thing to know, is that we’re all human. Sure, this deli took this idea beyond a normal level, but we’re all human and we all make mistakes. If you need the right support, then get in touch with an expert.
But if you are on the receiving end of a negative comment, here are a list of 6 actions you should take:
- Have a cup of tea before you respond. – We’re very protective of our brands and rightly so. However, it’s difficult to read a comment knowing 100% what the writer is feeling. So, take a moment to think, rather than diving in and throwing mud at them for daring to have an opinion.
- Empathise. – Whether you agree with them or not, try to understand it from their opinion and create a response that empathises with them.
- Sorry and thanks. – Apologise if the complaint is warranted, of even if not, and thank them for taking the time to give their opinion. On 98% of occasions, this will deal with the issue effectively.
- Make them happy. – What will make them happy? Whatever it is, try to accommodate and turn this negative opportunity into a marketing one.
- Take it offline. – to a phone call or email, if you think this is going to look irrelevant or ugly to other followers.
- Never feed the trolls! – If you’ve done all of this and they’re still complaining. Hold your hands up, say you’ve tried and wish them luck as they go on their way. If they persist, block and report if necessary.
Every social media faux pas is retrievable. So get the right support to help you through it if you need to.
These are my opinions, of course. What else would you do with a negative comment on your content? What are the best and words examples of customer engagement that you’ve come across on social media?