There is one thing that unhappy employees and customers have in common and that is the ability to tarnish your company’s reputation with just one negative comment/review on your social media channel or online review sites, such as PissedConsumer.com, Yelp.com, and Ripoffreport.com. A PR Crisis can be a result of an honest mistake or an intentional attempt to draw negative attention towards you. Either way, the right thing to do is respond to the criticism/comment professionally, competently, and calmly. Here are 4 steps you should take to manage a PR crisis on social media without having to provoke more drama.
Understand the issue. This is one of the most important, yet overlooked steps in online reputation management. Before you respond, take the time to gather the facts, analyze the situation, and understand the nuances. Often times, companies rush through their response without thinking – making a situation go from bad to worse.
Write up the response on Word before you publish it. Jot down a few notes- the who, what, where, when, why, and how. Your response should only address the concerns the reviewer brought up. Avoid haphazardly fire-hosing out lots of details that are irrelevant to proving your point. Let someone who has never read the review or comment read your response and try to identify the issue. If the reader is having a difficulty identifying the issue, there are too many details inside that should not be there. The key here is to be honest, but not overtly honest at the same time.
Address the comment immediately. There’s no need to spend days consulting management, other employees, and lawyers before responding to the comment/review. By that time the crisis could already be already out of control and out of your hands. It only takes a few seconds, at most a few minutes, for a message to go viral. Time is of the essence! When you do respond, respond in the most engaging, humble, and funny way possible.
Reassess. Reassess your own practices. Speak with your staff about the importance of customer service and what they can do to deflect a bad situation. Bring in professional development experts that can equip staff members to make informed decisions and deal with Public Relations crisis without relying on management to get out of hot waters.
The important thing to remember is to stay calm and not panic. If your customer wants an apology, then apologize. In some cases you’re not wrong, so there’s no need for one. You should then apologize for their bad experience and reassure them that their feedback is always appreciated.
If the customer is requesting a refund, ask them to call you to discuss the situation. Never speak about money issues in public or online. Nominate a neutral party who would be able to make a decision based on the facts and not emotions. Write a blog post – speaking about the experience and how your company has successful resolved disputes internally.
By Alex Noudelman