Naturally, brands are on top of the world, when everything is going well. Their fans are happy and engaged in what the company is doing – and this also means that they are the ones selling the brand. And as we all know, customers believe other customers more than the company itself, as the customers are a lot more trustworthy.
Unfortunately, it is a fact that it can all go wrong at some point and that is something the brand needs to be ready for – or at least acknowledge the risk. And being a well-known brand, there will always be somebody out there badmouthing you, spreading negative comments about you in their networks. Keeping each individual with an interest in your brand satisfied is hard work, but in this post I will go through some elements that can help you take the first steps.
First of all, it’s crucial that you are aware of what problems this negative talk about your brand can cause. And often, this negativity comes from bad experiences with your brand. These can occur when there is:
Inconsistency across channels: With social media you can touch the customer at any point in the purchase cycle: pre-purchase, during, and post-purchase. Each of those interactions has to add value and be consistent with the rest of the experience. Coherence is an important word in this relation.
Inconsistency with expectations: When expectations are not met. This is something that calls for negative feelings because time, effort and possibly money are wasted.
A negative relationship with people who represent the company: Social media can humanize your brand, if used correctly. However, it’s important that everyone relates to a code of conduct and is on the same page about the company’s policies, news, products etc. A negative interaction with any person, whether in social or traditional channels, can ruin the user’s view of the brand.
In addition, it’s almost impossible to not encounter customers who generally like to complain about something in relation to a brand. These people just like to start a fight, and on blogs, for example, they are even able to maintain anonymity. However, if you find yourself in such a situation where a person is badmouthing your brand (without even having a bad experience at hand), the best thing to do is move on and instead spend the time helping someone who has had an actual bad experience. It’s important that you make an effort and do what you can to work out the more serious problems, as this also shows that you care and that you are willing to work on a solution for the given person.
So, what do you normally do when someone is badmouthing you? Take action! It’s a good start to get to know who these people are, what they are saying and why they are not satisfied with your brand. You can do this by monitoring all mentions of your brand – which will lead you directly to the problem. When this is completed and you have tracked down the people discussing your brand, there are some steps that are very effective to follow:
Figure out the problem: Read the content carefully, whether it’s a tweet or a long blog post, and understand the motivation behind the post. Does the person need help? What’s the problem? What can you do to help? Reach out and acknowledge their problem. Most of these get resolved quickly, because the person just needed a short answer.
Respect privacy: Know when to take the conversation private. Upon initial contact, it’s appropriate to acknowledge the problem in a public channel. After the initial public tweet, you should reach out in a private channel to really see if you can make a difference. Never exchange confidential account information in a public channel.
Offer individual solutions: Each case is different, so the best thing to do is to offer an individualized solution, which may require you to work with the right people within your own company. Make an effort for this person – and do it as soon as possible.
Keep the person updated: Always remember to communicate back to the customer what has been done, or how soon to expect something to be done.
Let fans come to your rescue: If you have done a good job in an online conflict, your supporters will come to your rescue. Thus, do something fast in conflict situations, before the people involved become even more unsatisfied.
So, how can you prevent these kinds of situations in the future? First of all, it’s important to think about how to act 0n social media platforms in general. When you are present on various social media platforms, it is crucial that you maintain a certain kind of identity. You need to be open and engage with your fans – and also show them that you listen to them and appreciate their involvement. In other words:
Give a positive experience: Just as a bad reputation is caused by bad user experience, the good stories are caused by positive experience. And these are the ones we would like people to share. Being helpful and thinking about the customers, is one of the important elements that create good word-of-mouth.
Create dialogue: Fans of your brand are created when there is a two-way dialogue around their need – and when users have a direct input into the future of the product. It’s all about involving them and listening to what they have to say.
Be human: Show openness and transparency – show the people behind the brand. This helps to create trust and maintain a certain identity towards your fans.
Lastly, it’s also crucial that your employees know how to act. They need to be trained in how to help the customers and how to offer them the best solutions. It will shine through if they do not know how to handle a given situation or do not seem secure in what they are doing. So be specific about what they’re expected to do – and make sure they know how to act on social media platforms. One bad step can carry along serious consequences for your brand. But, the opposite can on the other hand help you maintain a good reputation!