Social media engagement remains a key outcome measure for brands, whether it comes from owned, earned or paid media. But how can you ensure that all your responses are on brand? And how do you best handle any negative comments?
Whatever your preferred platform, your approach to replying to feedback should remain the same: thank the user, address the issue and leave them feeling heard.
Here, The Content Marketing Team shares its top six tips for responding to feedback online.
1. Be clear about your brand values
Before you launch into any reply, first consider exactly what your brand stands for.
What are your core values? And how should these be best represented in your social media and online responses?
If you pride yourself on good customer service, then it is particularly important that you get back to any comments as soon as possible. There is little worse for a prospective customer than seeing a whole string of unanswered feedback and comments online. It’s a clear indication to them that the brand just doesn’t care.
2. Carefully consider your brand voice
Your brand voice is all important here – social media users will expect all responses to be on brand and anything off brand will inevitably jar heavily with the reader. So make sure you are clear about how you want to come across.
Bear in mind that your brand voice is communicated not only by your tone and the words you choose. It also includes grammar and punctuation. We have seen big brands fall short of expectations because individuals in their social media team cannot differentiate between ‘effect’ and ‘affect’. It creates a poor impression. Remember, content is everything.
3. Be consistent in your messaging
Consistency is a keynote of every strong brand. And it is therefore important to ensure that all your communications remain consistent in tone. As well as in their format. Ideally, it should look to the reader as if the brand itself is replying to every concern.
It’s a matter of opinion and preference but ours is that responses are written in the first person plural, rather than the first person singular. So, for example, this should read ‘we are grateful for your feedback’ rather than ‘I am grateful for your feedback’.
Consistency is especially important if you have a team of people who respond to online feedback. It is worth ensuring not only that your brand voice, standards and expectations are clearly communicated to all but that they are regularly assessed against these requirements.
4. Be quick to reply
It’s important with any form of correspondence to ensure that the sender receives a prompt reply. And online content is no exception.
So how quickly should you reply to comments online? In an ideal world, immediately! Or within a couple of hours. For some, this isn’t always practicable. It would, however, be reasonable to expect a response within 24 hours of posting a comment.
Some platforms, for example, Facebook, even allow you to make public just how responsive you are to messages and comments.
So why not make public your intention of replying to any feedback within 24 hours of it being posted and then aim to exceed the customer’s expectation by responding much sooner? It has the double benefit of impressing both the customer who made the comment plus the hundreds of others who have read their comments and are waiting to see how you are going to respond.
5. Add a personal touch
We can all recognise stock answers. Especially if they appear time and time again in the same – or similar – posts. And they don’t impress. Whilst consistency in your responses may well require the repetition of certain key messages, try to avoid these looking like they’ve been written by a bot.
Responding to each comment in a unique and personal way will go a long way to making your prospect or customer feel special – and most importantly, heard. Consider otherwise how you yourself might feel if your well constructed complaint was met with an obviously standard response. Would it increase or decrease the chance of you ever engaging with that brand again?
6. Take a positive approach to negative comments
Responding to negative comments is just as important as responding to positive feedback – if not more so. It’s a chance for your brand to show empathy and generosity in the face of criticism and where possible, to reassure all readers that all is being done to avoid the repetition of a problem for the next customer.
Engaging with your customer in an open and honest way more often than not pays dividends in the case of negative feedback.
Reply in much the same way you would to any comment. Acknowledge the sender personally (“Hi Sarah”) and express gratitude for their engagement (“thank you for taking the time to contact us with your concern”).
Then acknowledge the detail of their concern (“we understand you are unhappy with the service you received last Saturday”). If you’ve got it wrong, admit it! We all fall short – it’s human nature – but you stand a better chance of retaining the customer if you are frank about where you could have done more.
Lastly, where possible, make sure you commit to actioning the complaint (“we will investigate this issue to ensure it does not happen again”) and perhaps most importantly, make this change!
Call The Content Marketing Team for help replying to comments on social media
Whether it’s a positive or negative comment, online engagement with your brand represents the perfect opportunity to better connect with your prospect or customer. And it’s that customer engagement that is at the very heart of good content marketing.
The Content Marketing Team has a wealth of experience when it comes to all things social. And we’re also happy to advise on all aspects of reputation management.
So whether you need a hand with guidelines for your company about how to reply to online comments or you want a team to manage the responses to those comments for you, we can help.
And if you’re already in hot water with negative feedback from your customers, give us a shout. We can sort that too.
Contact The Content Marketing Team for more information and advice.