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Social media: How to deal with complaints

‘It’s easy to get sucked into a conversation you shouldn’t be having.’

March 25, 2019

Most people who complain via social media simply want validation of their experience, says Andrea Parrish, digital marketing assistant manager for STCU in Spokane, Wash.

Providing that validation can turn a negative interaction into something more positive, she told 2019 CUNA Marketing & Business Development Council Conference attendees Friday in Las Vegas.

“If you validate someone’s experience, you’re helping them because they’re not feeling defensive,” Parrish says. “When they post, they feel they have a reason to complain. If you validate rather than argue, you can change the conversation.”

Addressing complaints also provides a chance to see how the credit union failed to meet members’ expectations and improve service in the future.

Still, it’s hard to deal with negative comments. “When you’re in an emotional situation and you feel you need to defend your credit union, it’s easy to get sucked into a conversation you shouldn’t be having,” Parrish says.

Her approach to addressing negative comments:

  • Breathe. While the comments might feel personal, they likely aren’t. Re-read the post to ensure you understand what’s  being said. “Say all the things you want to say to that person but won’t,” Parrish says. “This breath will help you separate from the comments.”
  • Say “thank you.” They’re giving you the chance to respond.
  • Correct any factual inaccuracies. This way, others reading the comments will get accurate information
  • Follow up. “Always give them a choice in how the interaction continues,” she says.
  • Respond twice. If the complainer is a troll—someone who posts negative comments online “just to make you have a bad day and ruin your reputation”—responding twice shows others that you’re communicating. Responding more than twice to a troll simply fuels the drama.

More than one-third of consumers cite social media as their service channel of choice, Parrish says.

“If you’re not responding, then you’re not meeting them where they are.”

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