Things go wrong, so your company must plan ahead for online crisis management. Swift, empathetic responses and a thoughtful resolution can turn an angry customer into a loyal one. The people most passionate about a brand are often the most vocal, but you have to listen to them in good times and in bad. It is far cheaper to keep a previously satisfied customer than to earn a new one, and the best person to sell a new customer on your brand is a loyal customer.
People will want to interact with your brand online. Your company needs an experienced community manager to handle your online presence. This is somebody who knows everything about your company and its customers, not an intern.
For emergencies, have a team in place with PR, HR, legal, and marketing professionals ready to assess the crisis and determine the appropriate response.
Draft a list of policies and procedures for dealing with an online crisis, and make sure it is visible to everyone on the crisis management team.
Don’t Ignore Your Customers
A brief response acknowledging the customer’s problem is important, even if your company has not solved it yet. When you know how long the resolution will take, it is important to set people’s expectations. They expect a resolution to their problem, and that may take some time, but a thoughtful response should be issued quickly. You may have to bridge the gap. Here are some bridging techniques shared at the Energy Digital Summit Social Media Bootcamp:
Don’t Know: “I don’t know, but I can tell you…”
Time: “That may have been the case in the past. Now we are…”
Importance: “That once was important. What is important now is…”
Completing: “For a more complete picture have you considered…”
Yes and No: “No, let me explain. Yes, and furthermore…”
Stay Calm and Respond With Empathy
Showing you care is the easiest way to build trust with your customers. Take the conversation somewhere private whenever possible to deliver the best service. Log your incidents for future internal reference and training opportunities. Always remember you are communicating with real people. Deleting their messages does not make them go away. Embrace your customers online, and they will stand by you in good times and in bad times.