It was fairly late one Saturday evening so I was surprised to be getting a call from one of my clients. After all, he’s a vet… what kind of marketing emergency could he be having on Saturday night?
He was in a panic because he had gotten a negative comment on his Facebook page, something about a long wait and a non-attentive staff. He went on to explain how it wasn’t fair because he was short a tech that day and, well, you get the story…
I asked him if he’d replied to the negative comment, he said no. I asked why not, he replied that he had no idea what to say.
“What would you say if I were that customer right now Greg?”
“I’d apologize, explain the reason for the problem, and ask you to come back, it was an unusual day.”
“So what’s wrong with saying that in your reply?”
The social web is about relationships and just because you’re not speaking with them face to face doesn’t mean the message should change. I encouraged Greg to reply to the comment, he did, and the customer replied and was grateful. Relationship saved!
How many other customers had the same experience that day, and rather than write about it just decided they wouldn’t go back? How many potential customers would have read that comment and decided to keep looking rather than deal with a vet that was slow and inattentive?
By responding to the comment in the same venue, you not only give the customer a satisfaction of knowing you care and you’re willing to fix the problem, you also give the scores of other readers a chance to see and benefit from the same interaction.
A word of caution is in line here as well. While I DO believe you should respond to all comments, good and bad, I DO NOT believe you should engage in a shouting match or flame war online. It is very easy to misinterpret the words of others when they are printed on the screen and thus very easy to respond the wrong way to the wrong problem.
If the reply and response break down into name calling, finger pointing, fisticuffs… just delete the comment, ban the commenter and move on. YOU WILL NOT WIN A BATTLE LIKE THAT IN THE COURT OF PUBLIC OPINION, no matter how right you are!
Online commerce if fueled by feedback and more so each day, offline commerce is influenced by feedback. You can’t stop it or control it, but you can, you must, embrace it!