||How Can Retailers Avert Facebook Disasters?
Social media is a great way for retailers to engage their customers. But that same level of engagement can work against them when something goes wrong.
This is what one of our readers recently experienced when a simple request turned into a Facebook disaster.
The locally owned store declined to post in their window a flyer about a lost dog. While doing a lot with and for the local community, the store has a policy against placing community material in their windows.
Before they knew it, the innocent decision blew up online. Seemingly every dog lover in the community was posting vitriolic comments about the store's unwillingness to place a flyer in the window.
Okay, maybe you would have posted the flyer, but the same thing could happen if you turn down a request for a donation or other possible reasons.
Here are some things to consider:
Assess the potential damage. Could the mainstream press pick it up? Are you in danger of losing a large number of customers?
In this instance, many passionate pet owners were upset, but the overall long-term threat didn't seem high. A pet store might be different.
Apologize for what happened. Saying you're sorry doesn't mean you're saying you did something wrong. In this case, apologies could be offered for upsetting people or not exploring other ways to assist the owners of the lost dog.
Here's what's interesting. This store did apologize, offered to take some action, and the comments only got more negative. Which takes me to my next point.
Remember, just because someone is loud doesn't mean they speak for all of your customers. This is true in the store or online. Sometimes loud people are just passionately opinionated and often bullies. They don't represent all customers. Our customers know we're not perfect, and as long as we apologize if something goes wrong they'll stay with us. That said, we do need to address the loud voices.
Own the storyline. If you've apologized and someone still posts a negative comment, directly address his/her comment. It's highly unlikely you'll hear from the commenter, and your customers will see that you've extended the olive branch. Own the storyline so the other person can't keep fanning the flames even after you've apologized.
Last but not least, time is a great healer. People go on with their lives, and customers will still come into your store. That is, as long as you've addressed a negative situation as it happened.
(Source: Doug Fleener, President and Managing Partner of Dynamic Experiences Group LLC, published in Retail Contrarian, 04/24/13)