Almost every day when I check my social media news feed or linkedin feed, I always find a long open letter with #hashtags like #neverusethisbrand #theyarecheaters #youjustlostaclient #lasttimeiuseyourservice.
Yes, we live in a world where one troubled consumer can broadcast his or her experience to the entire world. This definitely tarnishes the reputation of the brand to a certain extent. A brand is built with blood, sweat, tears, creativity and good PR. However, a lot of destruction can happen in matter of moments (or maybe days) if the curse of an angry consumer in the form of a post goes viral.
What to do in such scenarios? Is it the sole responsibility of the corporate communication team of the company to control such unwanted publicity or can the consumers too act a bit maturely.
How does a sensible consumer act?
- Present facts and speak the truth- I have seen a lot of posts going viral where the ultimate purpose of the malignant campaign was to destroy a brand rather than simple resolve an issue. Do not be too harsh on brands unless it is a matter of physical safety, cheating and unethical business practices
- File legal case not just a social media case- I am in complete favor of security and tight processes but let me quote an example. When a female passenger says that she is not going to use a ‘particular on-demand taxi service’ in her long post because a particular driver misbehaved with her, try to get to the real issue. Help her file a police case, rather than make a noise on social media alone. Make it a mission to apprehend that particular offender rather than destroying the entire brand.
- Understand bigger good the brand or business espouses- If an employee or an organization offended you do not curse the entire organization. There are thousands of family which may be dependent on the people who make a living by working in that organization. You have no right to punish them for something they did not do. A few rotten apples will always be there, but do not throw the entire basket.
I am not asking to you compromise on business ethics, quality of service and overall standards of consumer security. The guilty must be punished but make sure you are not using a canon where you should be using a bullet. The casualties are higher in case of a canon.
How does a sensible corporate communication team react?
- Acknowledge the pain- Try to understand where the consumer is coming from. Sometimes, they may sound unreasonable but as a brand you have to handle things maturely. The world always operates on the assumption that the victim is always right. Bigger your brand gets more the victim story gets magnified. This is because the expectations from your brand change with the size of your business.
- Speed is your best friend- Never delay in reaching out to the consumer. Solve the issue and request them to remove the online post, after the issue has been resolved. The more viral the post goes, greater would be the reputation damage. Apprise the stakeholders of the action taken post a proper research. Find the truth and solve the issues quickly. There is always a solution.
- Improve the offering to kill the threat surgically- Every ‘pain’ or ‘grievance’ is a message of product improvement or process improvement. Pass on the ‘improvement feedback’ to the team which can implement the changes.
- Engage your larger community regularly- Constantly update them with ‘message broadcasts’ on how you are working to make things better, easier, faster and cheaper for your consumers. They love a brand which talks to them not just through advertisements but as stakeholders. Your top management can constantly interact with the consumers to show that ‘you care’ and ‘they matter’
(Views are personal)