Business Management, Technology

How to Deal with Negativity on Social Media

Internet Troll
From Gizmodo.com.

The Internet is a big place, but it is also a place for people to easily hide their identities and use harmful language against someone or an organization simply to cause a stir. These people are called trolls and should be ignored, blocked, or removed from websites and forums if caught. However, there are people out there with legitimate complaints and concerns about businesses, and they seek to have them resolved.

I spoke with a vendor a couple of months ago about this issue, and his main reason for not getting on social media and connecting with customers and clients is that he did not want to have to deal with all of the trolls out there. People can access his Facebook company page and start bothering others, making it, what he thought, into a PR nightmare. If one does not respond quickly to a customer or client concern, it could turn ugly, in his view, and that was something for which he felt he did not have time.

To his credit, he makes a fair point; time is limited for vendors, and they do not always have the know-how to perform well on social media and be able to deal with detractors or negative feedback. However, to ignore the free marketing resources available to vendors online is much worse. In a previous blog, we discussed how technology will drive the vending industry forward, and social media is part of that driving force. Vendors cannot be left in the dark when it comes to this tool, and they cannot ignore the fact that their customers are on social media and want to talk about their experiences at their vending machines.

This idea made me think of ways people can improve the social media experience for themselves and their customers and also establish credibility in the face of a large audience. After doing some research, I have a list of 5 ways to take care of customer and client concerns even when things get heated and overwhelming.

1. Listen

Listen to what your customers and clients are saying. Are they complaining about something you are doing wrong or not well, or are they blowing off steam from a rough day at work? Pay attention to the feedback your customers and clients are offering you because you can find an opportunity to correct mistakes for the future.

2. Policy

On social media websites like Google+, Facebook, and LinkedIn, you have the chance to set the policy for posting on your company pages. Be sure to be clear about the type of behavior that is not permissible and the consequences of not following the said policy. This way, people will know going into the group that there is a certain way they should carry themselves. If they do not follow the policy, you can, at first, kindly remind them that they will be removed from the group or blocked from the page if they do not follow the guidelines. Also, if comments are becoming too personal or heated to the point where foul and offensive language is being used, feel free to delete the comments and privately message the user, letting he or she know that this behavior will not be tolerated.

In the face of adversity, a smile goes a long way.

3. Apologize and Act

If the customer or client is reasonable in their comment about the service you provide, apologize (if necessary) in order to ease tension between the customer and the company. Offer to email the customer and discuss the matter privately, depending on the severity of the issue. If it is something that can be easily fixed, then let the person know that something will be done about it. For example, if the customer is complaining that a machine is not filled with their favorite pastry, a vendor can let him or her know that the route driver is on their way. In this way, other people will see that the company cares and is transparent. This gives more credibility to the company and builds relationships with the customers and clients.

4. Consistency

One week, you’re very active and helping customers out online. The next week, you’re hardly ever on, and customer issues are not being resolved or addressed. This will send customers mixed messages. They will feel like they are being treated differently than others. Being consistent gives customers the peace of mind that the company can be trusted and cares about their business. Also, if only a few people who are being disruptive are being disciplined but others not, then it seems like customers can get away with whatever they like, and then it becomes a public relations problem. Consistency is your best defense.

5. And always be like Fonzie

And what is Fonzie like? That’s right; he’s cool. Never lose your cool, even when people say awful things about your business. The worst thing you can do is get upset and use harmful language against a customer, client, or even a troll. Trolls want you to fail; they want you to look bad. As they say on the Internet, don’t feed the trolls, which means do not give in to their verbal abuse.There are ways to remove them from the page and prevent them from further abuse of their privileges, and as long as you have a policy in place, it makes it much easier. Always keeping cool and saying the right things keeps your customer relationships strong and will further build other relationships as people will be watching your interactions. This is a great chance to put your best face forward, so offer your customers service with a smile, if you will, while you’re typing your cool, calm, and proactive messages.

Social media is a fun and engaging way of connecting and building relationships with people, specifically your customers and clients. Do not miss the chance to utilize this free service because of fear of people; embrace the opportunity and start building relationships and growing your customer base. Vending needs people who can do social media well, and people like CNC Vending in Houston, Texas, are doing it right. Check them out if you get a chance.

Do you have anything else to add to this list? How do you deal with customer complaints? How do your route drivers deal with them? Let us know in the comments below, and please share this blog with anyone you feel would benefit from this information. If you want to learn more about how social media can be used in your vending business, check out this blog or email me at omar@parlevelsystems.com. I would be glad to help you out and start your social media journey.

Good luck out there, and have fun!

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  • http://www.elitevendingcompany.com Josh Matthews

    We place many machines around Atlanta and work hard with the Principal, staff, and parental feedback to make our machines as healthy as possible. We place water only vending machines and low cal sport drinks. Some schools also ask to carry Diet drinks. But the goal here is not only to give students better choices, but also help schools raise funds. And yes unfortunately that is the reality of our schools today. They are grossly unfunded. Many choices out of “healthy” or “healthy choice” machines are actually BETTER for you than the items the school prepares and students do not eat – (other than their french fries, etc). 

Schools need more funds. They also need to completely update what they are feeding our students at meals. It is not the vending company that is necessarily the “Bad guy.” But its an easy target.

We at Atlanta Vending Machines, Elite believe in feeding our children well, teaching team proper choices and giving them those choices to choose from.

    Also many school machines are set on timers where students do not have access to them until after school.

    • http://www.parlevelsystems.com/blog Omar

      I think you’re touching on a really great cause: helping out schools. If we change our thinking about the causes of obesity, for example not blaming vending and making it the scapegoat, and provide healthy options that make sense for vendors and customers, I think that is one way to help school kids make better decisions and eat healthier. When I was in high school, the school lunches were not healthy options at all. In fact, they were cheap, easy to mass produce, and full of sodium. I like where you are going with this idea, and I think it should be explored further. Thank you, Josh!