In a world where everyone can voice their opinions of you and your brand and broadcast them to the world, things can seem bigger than they really are. Also, social media is meant to be personal and responsive so you feel there is a duty/expectation that every complain should be met with a response.
The plain fact is that sometimes saying nothing is the best option. Sometimes you just have to let people vent and rant. You don’t have the time to deal with every single little complaint that comes your way, nor do you want to engage in meaningless chitter chatter with someone who will always complain no matter what. I mean why would you? If these people are only complaining to vent or in the hope that they can get some freebies from you, are they really the customers you want?
However, whilst you don’t have to answer it you do have to listen. You have to watch to see if there are patterns of issues, if an issue is suddenly growing in exposure and importance within your user base.
If there is an underlying issue then you need to:
- address it ASAP – if it is a production fault, cease production (Toyota knows a thing or two about this)
- communicate what you are doing – are you looking into it? When to you envisage you will have a solution/more information? I recently experienced this with Photobucket
- rectify it – Dell Hell anyone, or maybe you’ve seen this video
A more recent example was experienced by Apple in two different instances – the holding of the iPhone4 and location tracking. In both instances they took the time to understand the issue, figure out the reasons, find solutions and then present them to everyone. Whilst this is great, the radio silence between the issue first emerging and the official communication coming out felt a little long which escalated the issue further.
Much like in your personal life, no one likes to have criticism (or ‘bad’ feedback) but you have to listen and understand if there is an underlying trait/pattern that is causing it. If there is, then you have to change. If not, and it is just someone venting because they’ve had a shitty day then you need to develop a thick skin and let it slide (as hard and unfair as it might be at times).
You may even find that your most loyal customers will answer some of the complaints for you and protect you from them. But never delete bad feedback from the public domain. As hurtful as it might be showing that you are transparent and how you deal with ‘appropriate’ feedback is a positive thing for your customers to see. It may turn out to provide a great piece of PR for you. Mashable did an interesting post on this subject.
Only you will know what pile to put each piece of feedback on. Sometimes it is time to man up and face the consequences, other times silence is golden.