In the first part of this two-parter I talked about the terrible consequences of deleting social media comments. It makes your customer unhappy, it makes you look bad, and it makes people reluctant to do business with you. The good news is that social media makes it easier than ever to connect with and make amends with unhappy customers, even when it seems like they’ll never do business with you again. When I was at Likeable University several months ago Peter Shankman declared that you can turn your biggest haters into your most powerful brand ambassadors, and social media makes it comparatively easy. People are jaded of having bad experiences and venting about it without hearing so much as an apology or refund from the brand. Proactively reaching out and demonstrating your interest in making things right leaves a powerful positive impact on a customer.
The good news about the Restaurant X debacle is that it has a happy ending, although Customer Z pre-empted it. Before we could prepare to reach out to Customer Z to make amends the customer
found one of Restaurant X’s partners on Facebook and sent a Facebook message conveying how upset she was. The manager took my advice to heart, offering a sincere apology and inviting Customer Z to have dinner. I can’t say what transpired that night, but the manager had very positive things to say.
Less than a day later I noticed Customer Z on Restaurant X’s Facebook page again, but this time there weren’t complaints. Customer Z posted a very positive piece of feedback on their experience the other night. Since then, Customer Z has become a regular on the fan page, liking, commenting, and sharing very frequently.
The restaurant manager didn’t make excuses, try to justify the Facebook incident or force Customer Z to jump through hoops. Instead the manager was honest, open, and transparent. Those three words can turn someone who seems to be your worst enemy and make them into a loyal customer.
Also remember the value of a complimentary meal, a refund, or reimbursement for trouble like this. If you find yourself cringing at the additional expense, ask yourself this: How valuable is it to turn a review website bombing, bad word-of-mouth spreading, unsatisfied customer into a happy, talkative Facebook fan? Isn’t it worth paying for to have someone telling their friends and colleagues about a negative turned positive experience instead of just a negative one? A refund or freebie isn’t just an extra expense;. It’s a long-term investment into positive word-of-mouth and repeat business.
So the next time your blood freezes at the sight of an irate customer snarling on your Facebook timeline about a poor experience, consider the delete function off-limits. Remember the value of turning your biggest haters into your most powerful brand ambassadors through honesty, transparency, and wanting to fix a bad experience. Be good to your fans and they’ll be good to you.