Yoav Tchelet
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Guidelines to develop a social media crisis response framework

Many companies are turning to social media to improve customer relationships.

Social media is a powerful marketing tool that allows businesses to reach out to more customers and have a conversation with them. It enables them to gather more data about customers, including their needs, wants, and purchasing behaviour. Moreover, they can receive feedback in a timely manner, allowing them to address any issues that may arise.

Because social media is interactive and real-time, however, companies cannot prevent negative comments and complaints sent over the internet, which most consumers can access. Given this situation, businesses need to work hard to develop a social media crisis response framework. This framework outlines a business’ plan to deal with any kind of crisis brought about by irate and unsatisfied customers or unfortunate incidents involving the brand.

We’ve all seen how quickly a situation can spiral out of control, and with all the power shifting to the user in this regard, crisis response becomes critical.

Understanding the crisis and the market

In order to solve a crisis, you must first understand its cause. Once a crisis happens, the first thing you have to do is assess the situation and check if the complaints are valid. Determine if the negative comments against your business are made by people who have directly experienced unsatisfactory service or by customers who were merely influenced by other people. List the core issues and come up with a solution to solve them immediately. Do not wait for a long time before addressing an issue to show the customers that you are listening to them and trying to make them as satisfied as possible. When the complaints are found to be valid, you have to quickly respond to them by creating a crisis response team. Do not forget to tell the customers that you are working on the problem as fast as possible. If the complaints are invalid, however, you still have to respond in a modest way, but you can choose not to make a lot of internal changes in your business.

You will only be able to identify the main reason for the crisis if you truly understand the market. You should know where the customers are coming from and why they are making such a fuss about your products or services. You should be able to determine which online communities and individuals have the greatest influence on the issue, as you can use these to your advantage. Moreover, listening is important to understand your market. And so, use every tool and channel in the internet to know what the majority of the market says about your brand. With all this data, you will be able to pinpoint the real cause of the crisis and then eliminate it.

The significance of a crisis response team
Your staff is an important component in your arsenal in dealing with a social media crisis. With the help of the right employees, you can create an efficient crisis response team. The team will be responsible for handling and answering all the customer complaints posted on popular social networking sites and other social media channels. However, you have to carefully choose the people who will be included in this team. You have to make sure that each team member knows how to deal with different kinds of customers. Otherwise, they could just make everything worse rather than put an end to the crisis. Setting up a crisis response team is also a way to keep the conversation with customers going. This will make them feel that you are listening to them and taking steps to improve the situation. Keep in mind that it’s important to stay in touch with the customers while you are solving the issues because a lack of response could further anger them and you might risk losing them. Conversation with the market needs to be consistent and casual, so don’t use jargon and technicalities because they would not be easily understood by the majority.

Transparency and honesty
Always be transparent in the face of a crisis online, whether you are right or wrong — make sure that you acknowledge that there is a problem as step one. Then make sure that you keep your community informed of what you are doing to address the issue and their concerns and what steps are being taken by the company to rectify the problem. People always appreciate honesty, we all make mistakes — just be big enough to own up to them, fix them and move on.

Showing your appreciation
Even if your business is being bombarded by a lot of complaints and negative comments, you should remain appreciative toward your customers. Thanking your customers for their feedback, even if it’s negative, and promising them better service shows that you value them. Respect and politeness are among the values you have to develop and show, especially during a crisis. No matter how hot the situation is, you should not lose your cool or else the situation will just get worse. If you manage to address and end the crisis, do not forget to thank the customers for staying with you through thick and thin.

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