Online damage control 101: the response

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Thanks to the instantaneous communicative abilities of Facebook and Twitter, consumers can voice their satisfaction with products and services faster than ever before. On the other hand, they can also share their displeasure just as quickly. It is paramount for hotels, restaurants and other hospitality brands to establish a set of protocols to effectively respond to online criticism on social channels. As part of an effective reputation management strategy, hospitality brand managers should consider and apply effective SEO tactics and optimize social media properties to maximize your brand’s presence in the digital space.

Determine a proper response method

Companies generally employ two primary types of responses to social channel criticism: approved messaging and personalized replies.

Approved messaging involves applying situation-specific authorized responses that often provide links to troubleshooting guides and numbers for customer service hotlines. Sometimes they’ll request that the person directly message the company with their individual problem to facilitate the customer service process. Admittedly, approved messaging contains a very corporate tone, but is an effective way to quickly convey helpful information, especially to a mass audience.

Personalized replies are just that — personal. They take into account each person’s issue and address it accordingly. While warmer and more direct than the aforementioned approved messaging, it’s also more time consuming-and if the problem persists, can potentially evolve into a massive back-and-forth dialogue that could be best solved via phone.

Regardless of the response method your company decides to utilize, it’s essential to familiarize your customer support and social media staff with the proper messaging and tactics to allow them to assist customers in the digital space. Additionally, social influencers can help manage your online message and provide support to mitigate damages and retake control of the conversation.

Prepare for different complaints

Putting heart-warming compliments aside, consumer feedback generally comes in four forms:

  • constructive criticism
  • direct questions
  • merited attacks
  • spam

Dealing with constructive criticism and direct questions is relatively straight forward; simply respond politely to help remedy the issue at hand. Merited attacks are more difficult, as the person is generally emotionally distraught and less likely to be reasonable. Your company’s predefined response protocols should provide guidelines on how to appropriately deal with them.

Last but not least is spam – posts that contain fraudulent causes, unrelated self-promotions, and completely irrelevant information. The best way to handle this is to delete them, as responding is a waste of time better spent assisting genuine customers.

Evaluate the complaints to identify the primary sources of their malcontent

There will typically be a few perpetual complainers known as “trolls” in the online community who have decided they have a major bone to pick with your company. However, if your business continues to experience a constant influx of complaints, there may be some validity to their claims. Compile a list of the most common grievances and go about attempting to remedy them internally. There will always be negative feedback on social channels, but you can help minimalize it by ultimately producing the best product and services possible.

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