You’ve done all the right things… You are:
- listening to your community
- interacting with them
- establishing a rapport
And things are moving along great. If you have an active community & product(s) that aren’t perfect then it’s best to realize that negative feedback is going to happen & it is good.
Jeremiah Owyang’s new FAQ series started with What if they leave negative comments? He suggests:
- Find out the answers for them
- Involve them
- Opportunity to remedy the situation
I’m going to expand on them.
1. The community manager’s role should be connecting externally & internally. You should be monitoring your community. If there are outstanding issues then you should have the means to connect to the appropriate department internally. I communicate with 3 departments on a regular basis.
- Support services
- Quality Assurance
2. It’s easy to involve your community in the solution. I try to stand back & let them resolve it on a peer level. Forum moderators will actively help and even those that aren’t designated have their special skills & jump in.
3. Remedying the situation is important. How does one know which situations should be addressed? If you know your community it is like watching a barometer. Negative feedback about a product will become a discussion. If it’s ignored then the brand will come under fire. This is a good reason to provide the forum moderators with a private place to discuss things. When the topic escalates to that place it’s time to do so similarly internally (if not sooner).
This is where the challenge of being a good communicator comes in. The community has an issue. You communicate it internally & then rely on others to evaluate & respond. Some things that you may encounter:
- the respect & rapport that you’ve built with your community is important now
- your community may question your loyalty to them
You are there for the customer, but ultimately need to be loyal to the company. The decision to remedy the problem is probably not yours so it’s a difficult place to be. But, keep in mind that your company has put you there in good faith and with the intention of gathering feedback from the customers. (So if you’re a company thinking about adding a community manager position, please expect them to bring back negative feedback because they are the ultimate representative of the customer.)
Please add your ideas of how you deal with negative feedback? What are your tips for communicating with customers & internally?