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Friday, August 27, 2010

Handling Negative Comments On Facebook, Twitter and blogs
There has been a lot of public discussion regarding the best way to respond to online criticism. Use of back channels makes a lot of sense, but I have concerns with: 1) making it the customer’s responsibility to turn around and contact your company through more traditional customer service channels, and 2) assuming that your happy customers will come to your defense in the public media.

In regard to traditional channels, the unhappy customer is likely going public with their complaint or concern on Twitter or Facebook because the mass media continually reports on how much better care customers are receiving through those channels. Customers are beginning to think they have done their part by Tweeting, and that it’s then becomes the corporation’s responsibility to magically “fix everything”.  Expectations are high and unless you are certain that your customer service team is extremely skilled and motivated, you are taking a chance.

In regard to hoping that satisfied customers will come to your defense in the public forum, that may or may not work, depending on your product category.  Most “satisfied” customers just aren’t emotionally attached enough to the brand to bother responding (despite what they claim in response to Net Promoter research).  Many more simply will NEVER write anything (it’s just not their nature).  Others would write, but miss the opportunity because they just never come across the criticism.  Finally there are customers who buy loyally but really just don’t have any meaningful “content” to offer that might counter the negative comments.

Until brands begin to identify those customers who are behaviorally loyal, emotionally committed, and of the personality type that does speak out, and “arms” those individuals with knowledge and the opportunity to respond, the likelihood that many of them will come to the rescue is not great.

2:50 pm edt          Comments

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