Using Social Media To Silence Critics

Using Social Media To Silence Critics

Social Media Can be Abused to silence critics

photo credit: quinn.anya via photopin cc

Social Media gives you a chance to listen to your customers and engage them in conversations. On the flip side, customers have the opportunity to not only engage you directly, but talk about your business to anyone who will listen. I mentioned a few of my social media pet peeves in an earlier post and one that really should be added to the list is companies who listen and respond to complaints by inviting the customer to send them a message so that they can take care of the issue.

There are several problems with this practice:

  1. It looks like the company is all-caring and trying to rectify a situation. In my experience, very few companies actually solve the problem. They want to give the appearance they’re solving the issue, but in reality they’re not and don’t really care.
  2. It further erodes the trust and confidence built by the company with the consumer.
  3. There’s no proof of rectification unless the unhappy customer posts a follow-up.
  4. The unsatisfied customer will continue to voice their frustration.

What you can do as a business:

  1. If a customer complains, then help them. Don’t go through the motions if you’re not planning on doing anything.
  2. Have a social media complaint policy. Southwest Airlines, for instance, will not respond to customer issues voiced on social media. Instead, they direct people to their customer service team via their website and toll-free number.
  3. Don’t feed the trolls. Trolls are people who drum up trouble just for the sake of starting trouble. They don’t usually have anything of value to add to a conversation and they complain. It doesn’t matter what you do, they’re going to be out there talking about your company. If you respond to them, you may be opening the flood gates to a larger issue. Again, another good reason to employ a policy similar to Southwest’s.
  4. Don’t censor your customers. Some companies have a habit of removing negative comments from their social media pages. Leave the comments as is and actively engage with the person and try to solve their problem.

Businesses need to value their customers and treat them with respect and courtesy. Pretending to care about their problem publicly and then not doing anything about the issue privately is a terrible behavior and needs to be stopped. A happy customer will tell a few people. An unhappy one will tell anyone who will listen, and their voice is magnified online. Social media gives you a great opportunity to solve their problems instead of sweeping them under the rug. And wouldn’t you rather know about issues versus just losing a customer?

So what say you? Have you had a similar experience? Are you a business owner? How do you handle these types of situations? Sound off in the comments.

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