The power of love – turning your harshest critics into your greatest advocates

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Ben Gateley, director of Born Social offers key tips on dealing with online feedback

Word of mouth has long been the best form of marketing, and as an increasing number of conversations happen online, social media has never been of greater importance.

So, why do we sometimes find ourselves hesitant? In an industry where 64% use social media to make travel plans (or 76% of the 25-34 age bracket), there seems to be a real concern for negative feedback. We’re so afraid to let people speak badly of us online that we fail to effectively engage in the real communication channels where our customers spend the most of their time.

But we needn’t be nervous. In actual fact, embracing social networks can help turn your critics into your biggest fans. Rather than ignoring comments – which, remember, exist whether or not you are online to acknowledge them – you can place customer concern at the heart of your social strategy, not only comforting a disgruntled customer and restoring their faith, but demonstrating your commitment to good service for all the world to see.

Here are three quick tips to learn how you can turn a few bad words into a valuable statement about you and your brand:

1. Have a plan

Be prepared – always have a plan. When impulsive, mistakes can run awry – as Rugby team Sale Sharks discovered when they failed to lay out how to deal with a gratuitous insult on Facebook! {http://bornsocial.co.uk/blog/archives/105}. You should have a clear course of action to deal with all possible consequences that might arise so you never get caught off guard.

2. Acknowledge all comments and be prompt

Don’t do what United Airlines did back in 2009 {http://bornsocial.co.uk/blog/archives/103} and ignore an unhappy customer (to dire consequences). You wouldn’t do it in real life, so you shouldn’t do it online. People expect their social comments to be replied to within a full working day, so meet (or better still, exceed!) these expectations.

3. Be personal – not ambiguous

Don’t fob them off by saying you’ll “look into the matter”. Let them know you’re dealing with it, tell them when you’ll get back to them with a response and make sure you do. That helps to take the sting out of any backlash and on-looking social users can only admire you for recognising the issue and dealing with it speedily.

Truth is, however bad the experience, everyone appreciates their voice being heard and concerns addressed with charm. Reputation management is playing a huge role online within the hospitality industry, and social media should be seen as a democratic platform to address issues out in the open, not a worrying force of negative sentiment. You should welcome customer feedback online as much as you would offline and, if you follow the above, you might even find you help turn things in your favour …

For more information please contact Nicole Thompson on 020 7025 1862 or email: nicole.thompson@epmagazine.co.uk

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