How your B2B social media manager should reply to online comments

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By now, unless you live under a rock, you are aware of the benefits of social media for your B2B business. Unfortunately, this power is a double-edged sword, which comes in the form of occasional surges in customer comments and negative feedback.

So, how should your social media representatives handle such engagement?

Here are a few tips to help you get started in the right direction.

Get ready for increased engagement

Whether you expect an unusual number of inquiries and comments or not, it’s always a good idea to prepare for this eventuality. The more proactive you are, the better.

My first piece of advice would be to review your company’s social media policy to include guidelines explaining how social media reps must address engagement.

These guidelines should focus on:

  • What constitutes acceptable responses.
  • The channels reps will recommend to customers to ensure appropriate resolution. These include email, phone, live chat, or private messages on Facebook or Twitter.
  • Potential disciplinary action for reps who do not follow guidelines.

All employees should be adequately trained as well. Role-playing will allow them to come up with and practice pre-written scripts.

Spell out the rules to your customers

While email remains the favorite method of communication for B2B customers, there is an increased interest in social media to engage directly with companies. LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, in particular, are major platforms for lead generation.

HubSpot reports that 44 percent of marketers have obtained results from the former, while the latter two stand at 39 and 30 percent respectively.

Your company’s success depends on the way you treat social media; it should always be a two-way communication channel.

Customers may not always be aware that reps are unavailable. So, it is important to let them know how and when they will be able to best assist them.

Intel is an example of brand to emulate. In the About section of their Facebook Page, there is a series of rules for inquiries, negative posts, privacy, spam, and inappropriate content. For example:

  • “If you have a customer service issue, we recommend visitinghttp://www.intel.com/p/en_US/support or sending a tweet to http://twitter.com/intelsupport for the fastest paths to resolution.
  • “We don’t take decisions on moderating posts lightly. But we do expect that participants post content and commentary that is both relevant and respectful to this community as a whole. Intel reserves the right to remove any posts that don’t adhere to our guidelines and to block anyone who violates them repeatedly.”

Expected response times also matter to customers. As such, a B2B company could take a page from a brand such as KLM. On Twitter, you know exactly when they will get back to you.

klmplane

Make those guidelines available on your website and/or your Facebook Page. This will give your company some leeway and save everyone time. All your reps have to do is refer customers to the dedicated page.

Acknowledge negative comments

Many companies in the B2B and B2C space respond to positive feedback. However, they tend to ignore or delete the posts that do not paint them in a good light.

Disgruntled customers and bad reviews are a reality you cannot avoid. Trying to censor them will have a deleterious impact on your reputation and credibility. It is much safer to acknowledge and tackle issues “head-on” to increase the chances of a happy outcome.

This outcome will happen if social media managers:

  • Avoid getting defensive;
  • Listen intently and acknowledge the customer’s current emotional state;
  • Ask open-ended questions to figure out an appropriate solution;
  • Always thank and show the buyer that their feedback is valued;
  • Follow up with the customer a few days after the complaint.

dellbusiness1

Additional tips

  • Respond in a timely and friendly manner. According to Brandwatch, 80 percent of customers expect a response to their social media queries within 24 hours. And HubSpot reports that 35 to 50 percent of B2B sales go to the brands that respond first to enquiries. So, the faster, the better.
  • Encourage staff to use their name to make the connection more personal.

hootsuitesocial

  • Staff should always apologize for any inconvenience, be honest if they cannot find a solution, check for accuracy, and do the necessary research.
  • Monitor social media consistently to uncover discussions where your company’s name hasn’t been tagged. For example, on Twitter, try combining keywords like “company name + fail / bad / negative / unhappy.”
  • Don’t feed the trolls.
  • Follow up with the customers regularly. Once the issue has been resolved, you could post a public message to explain what your company did. And to avoid negative reviews, include a phone number or email address. Customers experiencing similar issues will thus be able to contact support with minimal friction.

How does your company address increased engagement on your end?

Photo via lawpracticechannel.com

 

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Cendrine Marrouat

Cendrine Marrouat

Cendrine Marrouat is a content creator & curator, social media trainer, author, and photographer. She is also the founder of Social Media Slant, a blog helping small business owners and solo-entrepreneurs to figure out the basics of social media. "The Little Big eBook on Social Media Audiences: Build Yours, Keep It, and Win", her latest social media ebook, was awarded a 2015 Small Business Book Award in the Social Media Category. Website: http://cendrinemarrouat.com