Social media is a great marketing and communications tool, but every business lives in fear of being "flamed" or talked about badly on a social media channel. Here are some tips on what you can to do avoid that problem, and what to do if it happens.
First you need to know about the complaint. The best thing that can happen is that the person--whether a current client or not--makes a negative comment on your own social media. If you or one of your staff members are monitoring that social media channel (such as Facebook or Twitter), then you know about it and can address it immediately.
If someone writes a negative comment on your social media, don't delete it (unless it is vulgar or mentions a staff member or another boarder by name); address it right there. This is really hard for most people; you just want to make it go away. But it is better to address a problem in your "back yard" (your own social media) than somewhere you never see and might not hear about for weeks.
If a negative comment is handled properly, you can turn the story around and let the others who share your social media space know that you take these types of complaints seriously and do something about them.
Let's say on your Facebook page your boarder Sally writes: "I was at the stable to see my horse Happy yesterday afternoon, and one of the staff was really rude when Happy kicked some straw into the aisle. I can't believe they let someone like that work at the stable."
The manager or owner might post: "I have talked to Sally about this incident. I have talked to the specific staff member and the rest of the employees at XYZ Stable so that they understand that our customers come first, and rudeness will not be tolerated."
If during your conversation with Sally she becomes an advocate, ask her to say so in the same place she stated her problem. If during your conversation she says something like, "I was just so surprised because she is usually so nice to me and Happy that it really hurt my feelings." You might jump on that better emotion and explain why the staff member was edgy that day: "She just got a call that her puppy was missing, and she was really upset. But that was no reason to take it out on you. But if you think our staff is friendly and polite most of the time, would you mind saying that on our Facebook?"
One word of warning: Don’t respond to unhappy customer emails via email, especially with some long explanation. Your words will be copied--sometimes out of context--and they can be used against you. Suggest the person call you at their convenience and supply them with a phone number.
Other Social Media
The social medias that are geared around images (such as Pinterest) and videos (such as YouTube) are hugely popular. If someone posts an image or video that is negative to your business, you need to address it right away.
Let's say that someone posts an image or video of your dressage instructor really getting after a horse and over-flexing him during a training session (true story that went viral). On all of your social media channels you need to say what you did to correct that problem, from firing the dressage instructor to talking to her and guaranteeing that humane training methods will be followed at your stable.
When your customers have complaints, take them seriously. An unhappy customer can spread a lot of ill will in a short time to a lot of people in today’s digital world. But remember, often an unhappy customer can be turned into a brand advocate, and that should be your goal!