Negative content can surface on the web in a wide variety of forms including complaints made directly to the company, bad reviews, and less than optimal conversations on social on social media sites. While you never want to see anything negative about your company and steps should be taken immediately to mitigate potential damage, the way you deal with critical content can potentially improve operations as well as the way potential customers perceive your business.
- Fixing real problems – Negative content can surface as either a single person or multiple parties airing a grievance. In both cases, the problem should be assessed for validity, which will be increasingly likely as more people participate in the conversation. By listening to these conversations, you can use the feedback to make improvements in areas that are problematic for customers, whether that means discussing the issue with an employee that is generating complaints, or fixing a weakness in one of your products.
- Showing how the business deals with tough customers – Any business that stays in operation long enough will have a database with a large percentage satisfied customers. It’s a numbers game, however, and the more customers a business has, the higher the likelihood that at some point there will be a tough customer (or two) in the bunch. When that person starts posting valid, vague or non-sensical complaints online, an opportunity exists to show that your business engages with its customers in a constructive and respectful manner, regardless of the tone of the complaint. Following up the engagement with a resolution that closes the issue, will show that your business is responsive as well.
- Improved handling of in-store complaints – It’s not uncommon for businesses to deal with complaints at their physical locations without much of a plan, which may result in the issue being taken online if, for example, a problem expressed by a customer is mis-handled. This can occur by having the wrong person address the complaint, by making the customer feel that the problem isn’t the concern of the business, or in a variety of other ways that don’t give the customer any level of satisfaction. Instead, the policies and actions that are applied to resolving online problems can also be used to deal with complaints that are made in the physical location of the business.
Negative content can be used as a test to improve your business. Should it surface, first consider a response that will benefit the business, and then go into action.