7 Best Practices for your Social Media Crisis Mode (Part Three)

If you’re just now joining the conversation, make sure to go back and read part one and part two where we’ve been discussing social media crisis management with Jonathan Bevis, the director of marketing for Cook Portable Warehouses.

We’ve saved the best for last, so let’s jump back in one last time, pencil and paper ready!

5. Develop relationships that fight for your brand.

Any proper sales funnel you come across tells you that the relationship you build along the way doesn’t end with a paying customer. No, you want to develop customers into advocates that help evangelize your brand.
Jonathan says:

“Whenever someone goes out of their way to say something nice about our company, I make a conscious effort to reward them, in some small way, & develop a relationship.  For example, if someone leaves a compliment on our Facebook page, I search our database for that customer’s mailing address and send him or her a handwritten thank you card along with a small gift.   I want them to know how thankful I am that they took the time to tell us that we did a good job.   You never know when a short comment on your social media profile will turn into something that you can utilize over & over again as a testimonial.

These advocates come in quite handy when a crisis rears its ugly head, as they will stand in opposition of the offending situation, often telling others about their own experiences. These instances help show the consumer market as a whole that the incident was an isolated one (hopefully) and that your brand is worth trusting and being invested in.
Jonathan says:

 “Brand advocates can also prove valuable when it comes to defending your reputation online.  I recently encountered a customer who was unhappy about an experience he had with our company nearly 20 years ago.  He made a slightly negative comment on our Facebook profile and within minutes, three separate individuals came to our defense by sharing their positive experiences.  It did not diminish the importance of the customer’s complaint but the opinions of our brand advocates quickly illustrated that fact that we do a very good job of delighting our customers 99.9% of the time.”

6. Expect the worst.

Not to be a downer, but social media gives everyone the ability to hear and read about almost anything. That’s a lot of eyes and ears, and a lot of opinions. When a situation develops unexpectedly, being on the scene as soon as possible and equipped to handle the problems at hand means brining the mindset that this could be much worse than it looks.
Jonathan says:

“Sometimes, I believe an upset customer’s feelings are amplified because they assume that the company isn’t listening.  They may leave a comment on your social media profile with an expectation that they will never receive a response or at most, they will receive a canned response from a script.

In my own experience there are three keys which allow you to own the conversation: 1) address the customer immediately, 2) show empathy for their situation, and 3) fix their problem or offer a compromise.”


7. Sometimes, “I don’t know” is the right answer.

As a social media manager, you sometimes are forced to admit that you don’t know all the answers right now. That’s okay! Establishing a point of communication that lets your customer base know you’re aware of the situation is step one, step two is then figuring out how to deal with it. It might hurt at first, but offering an honest answer is better than offering an answer that you’re unsure of and could end up being false.
Jonathan says:

“Regardless of how much you know about your product or company, there will come a time when you won’t have the answer to a customer’s question.  That’s ok!  There is nothing wrong with admitting that you don’t know the answer to the question, but you should act quickly to find the answer and follow-up with the customer.  This is a great opportunity to delight & impress your customer.

I was monitoring our social media streams one evening from home when a customer asked a very technical question that I did not know the answer to.  However, I immediately responded and promised the customer that I would find the answer to their question by 10AM the following morning.  The very next thing I did was set a reminder in my phone to ensure I wouldn’t forget to address the question in the morning.  The next morning, I found one of our engineers, got the answer, and then responded to the customer.  He was happy because I obviously put some effort into the response.”

With these practices in mind, you should have no trouble at all whenever Murphy’s Law is in full swing. You’ll be the social media rock star everyone wants to have on their side! We can’t thank Jonathan enough for sharing his insight with us.