Dealing with Negative Feedback Online

“If you have nothing to hide and are proud of your products and services, why not use the open forum to take constructive criticism and defend your business or clear up any misunderstandings?” – WallStreetOasis

Beyond legal and ethical issues, social media marketing entails defining solid boundaries. Most companies are utilizing their online to create an “available” reputation, and actively respond to user questions and feedback. However, in being available to the public, healthcare marketers especially need to be cognizant of the negative feedback they will receive that is specific to their industry. Essentially, health care companies must not allow the public to hijack their reputation by a barrage of user complaints and concerns. One complaint can literally have a chain reaction where other customers echo concerns.

Social media marketers are challenged in balancing their brand and their relationship with their audience. Companies strive for an audience that is engaged. However, online users have the ability to indict a company with little effort. It is important to realize it’s unrealistic to believe a company has no online presence. It is just that they don’t have control of it.  It is best for a business to get online and debunk or take in negative opinions of your company (link to Domino’s blog), so that misinformation/negativity doesn’t continue to be perpetuated.

So what happens when you get negative feedback? Here are a few examples of insurance companies responding to customer complaints online:

negativefeedback1 negativefeedback2

In both cases, the insurance company expresses their willingness to help. To avoid legal issues (link to previous blogs), they also refer the disgruntled customer to an email for further assistance. Doing this also allows calm down the disgruntled party, but also could prevent a barrage of negative feedback by moving the discussion to a private venue.

With complaints directed to healthcare entities it can get personal and serious very quickly. People tie their healthcare into their well-being, and rightfully so. Issues occurring offline will easily boil over to online, and ultimately threaten your online presence.

That is why there must be special preparation when an insurance company takes on social media. Many changes need to occur internally that are more complex than simply creating an account. With the change to social media marketing, a team that understands that and customer service would be beneficial. New employees that specialize in social media could be put on your team, or it may just be more beneficial to train your current marketing team in social media etiquette. Some suggest not only reforming your marketing team, but also merging your Public Relations team with a team that specifically markets on social media.