The old saying “one bad apple spoils the bunch” has been used for generations to describe the problem that quickly arises for businesses when one person is unhappy. One bad online review from a customer can cause more damage than dozens of positive reviews from loyal and happy customers. Months of positive social media actions can be completely unraveled in moments.
But in a climate of constant information flow online, often with incredibly limited consequences, how can businesses do their part to keep those “bad apples” from negatively impacting their entire client base? While there are no perfect solutions to this problem, a few clear and simple steps can be taken that will help your business to minimize negative reviews and even turn them into positive situations at times.
Think before you speak. Though this may seem fairly obvious at first, it becomes more complicated the farther we take this concept. Businesses speak in all sorts of ways today, including blog posts, status updates, tweets, e-mails, newsletters, and face-to-face conversations. Businesses need to be vigilant in their use of each of these channels to ensure their brand is being presented well and that they are being sensitive to different cultures, experiences, and changes in the world.
If you are using an automatic social media updater, be aware of what you have scheduled. “It’s a beautiful Friday!” is a fine tweet to go out, but not if an horrific terrorist attack happened just 2 hours before the tweet was scheduled. Out of context, a single tweet goes from a nice platitude to an incredibly insensitive statement that can turn a large portion of your customer base against you.
Think quality, not quantity. While being consistently engaged with your social media platforms is important, and quantity does matter to the overall health of your online relationships, quality still holds the trump card. Be certain that you are offering something of value to your customers each time you interact. If you aren’t certain of that, hold off on the tweet, post, or update until you are.
Respond with kindness and concern. Regardless of how rude, thoughtless, un-researched, or untrue a comment or review may be, the way you respond to the situation has an incredible impact. Though you may not notice, people are paying attention to the way you interact. And your attitude matters.
Every once in awhile, our own creative site will have this problem. Someone comments with an incredibly negative (and usually irrelevant) attack on our capabilities as photographers, writers, or creatives in general. We are careful to respond kindly and to try and clarify the concern; our other readers take notice of our positive attitude and are grateful. Not only do they rush to our defense, but they become even more loyal and actively recruit new readers for us. A negative situation turns positive because of attitude alone.