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Consumers who have become accustomed to expressing their opinions on their social networking pages have been utilizing the same format to complain about businesses. Instead of keeping the complaints on their own page, however, most consumers will now either directly tweet the business or leave their complaint on the company’s Facebook page. Although widespread exposure is definitely the goal of some consumers, the quick accessibility of social media seems to be the major driving force for most people.

Social Media Scandals

Because millions of people have access to a company’s Facebook page, a minor PR issue can blowup into a huge debacle within a very short amount of time. For example, Modell’s Sporting Goods posted several months ago that they had decided to partner with Michael Vick in the creation of a new clothing line. In less than 48 hours their page was filled with comments from angry customers and animal lovers.

Other more recent examples include Papa Johns and Olive Garden. Both of these businesses were quoted by the news as stating that they would change their employees’ hours to avoid offering insurance through the Obamacare law. The backlash that hit both of their Facebook pages and Twitter accounts was enormous, and both companies ended up releasing a statement that they were going to reanalyze their position on the topic.

Dealing with Complaints

Whether your company receives one complaint or is on the wrong side of a scandal, you need to be prepared to deal with it quickly. One of the major mistakes that the companies listed above made was to not respond to people when the complaints first started coming in. By acknowledging that someone has made a complaint and taking steps to resolve your issue, you can show both that customer and everyone else who visits your page that you care about making your customers happy. You should always thank people for taking the time to leave a comment, even if you completely disagree with their complaint. By doing this, you will make them feel validated, and you will also look good to everyone else who happens to read the post.

Being Prepared for a Scandal

Although most businesses will only deal with individual complaints, it is important to have a plan in place for immediately responding to a scandal. Unlike other businesses before you, you should begin responding to people’s comments as soon as you notice them. If there are too many to respond to them individually, you need to make a post that addresses the issue. Again, make sure you thank everyone for their comments, and then take the opportunity to correct any misconceptions. If you have made an unpopular decision that you are not going to change, which is what happened with Modell’s, you need to let people know that you appreciate their feedback, but you have made a business decision and intend to stick with it.

It is best to have either one person or a small team of people who responds to everything. Make sure to train them on dealing with social media, and utilize the mistakes of other companies to show them what not to do. If you take a proactive approach by being prepared to respond to comments immediately, it will be much easier to keep your customers happy and any potential scandals under control. 

 

About the guest author: Georgina Clatworthy is a freelance writer with an interest in business, media and communications. Social media has fast become the preferred medium by which consumers voice their complaints and grievances, however few businesses will monitor their accounts let alone rectify customer issues.  Gripevine offers a different way to resolve your issue and connect directly with the business in question, meaning complaints and issues are resolved faster.

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