Nothing gets my attention like a bad Yelp review or negative comment on a brand’s Facebook page. Part of the fascination is plain curiosity. Woah, what happened here? But, I am also intrigued by the company’s response. I tend to think about what I would have said differently.
It’s a delicate balance nowadays. Social media accounts keep customers an arms distance from businesses. A new level of customer service is expected. Your agency is susceptible, now more than ever, to a bad review or negative comment online.
That’s why agencies of all shapes and sizes need a plan to diffuse that negativity, fast. Here’s what to say when your agency is faced with these online customer frustrations.
Don’t Let it Go Unnoticed
First of all, you can’t respond to a negative comment if you don’t know it’s there. The only thing worse than an angry tweet or review is one that goes unanswered for weeks.
Remember: These interactions happen in full view of the public. Customers and prospects are there, online, watching. They want to see how you handle the situation. A lack of response indicates you don’t care about how your customers feel.
Don’t let that happen. If your agency has social media accounts or online business listings, you must take responsibility for what happens on those pages.
Periodically check your accounts for recent reviews. Check notification settings so you get a message when activity happens. Also, create a Google Alert for your insurance agency. You’ll get notified every time your agency is mentioned somewhere online.
Craft Your Response
Even though this interaction takes place online, it’s still public. Your response must be appropriate, professional and on-brand. Think of it as a form of public relations or reputation management.
Some platforms allow you to remove bad comments. If you’re on Facebook, your first instinct may be to click delete. Don’t do it. You’ll end up looking shady. It will also anger the commenter and lead to a bigger mess than you bargained for.
Step One: Apologize
First, greet them with an apology. Be empathetic and sincere. Acknowledge their issues or problems. Offer a solution. Don’t pull the infamous “I’m sorry you feel that way.” Also, don’t get emotional or defensive. Take a deep breath, and compose your response offline. That gives you plenty of room to type it out without clicking post prematurely.
Step Two: Move Things Offline
If they need further help from you, seek to take the conversation out of public view as fast as possible. You want to avoid getting into a back-and-forth conversation. Immediately provide them with an alternative avenue of communication.
On social media, direct them to the private messenger. Then, give them a personal phone number or email address where they’ll be immediately helped. On review sites, you may not have the option to send private messages. You will have to post an email address or phone number publicly.
Step Three: Sign Your Name
Sign off with your name or initials. It adds a personal touch. Readers like to know there is a human behind the response, not a faceless agency. The original commenter will also know how to address you personally in future correspondence.
Step Four: Monitor
Keep an eye out for their response. Sometimes, a response will never come. That’s okay, you’ve done your part. If a response does come, do your best to provide good customer service. Take the chance to hear them out. They may even go back and revise their original review after a positive resolution.
Here is an example of a response employing the previous four steps.
Thanks for reaching out. Sorry you ran into a problem with our billing department. No one wants to get double billed. I’ve sent you a direct message with my contact information and we can get this sorted today.
My apologies and talk soon,
Your agency’s goal is to avoid a sloppy, haphazard response. That’s why it’s important to have a game plan in place beforehand. It can be as easy as a brief subsection in your communications guidelines. Include a list of your current online accounts, too. That way if you are out of pocket, others will know what to say.
Don’t consider comments and reviews as a personal attack, but as free consumer research. People are letting you know about what they think of your insurance agency. What led to this comment? What is the root problem? Take this opportunity to refine your processes and smooth your customer service.
Today’s customers are savvy and know airing a negative experience can attract attention fast. You can’t control negative review or comments online. But, you can control how you handle them.
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