A couple of weeks ago I received a sales call from Sun Life wanting to set up a meeting with a sales person that was in the city the following day. I explained that my day was already full – and that I already have a relationship with one of the company’s sales representatives as part of the networking events I go to and was in the process of setting up a meeting with her to discuss what they could do for me. The caller however, asked me again when I was free the following day and, when I asked him if he’d understood what I’d said he hung up on me.
In the heat of the moment I took to twitter and tweeted my frustration with the company, including the @ handle. I didn’t expect to hear anything back and I’d made my point in real-time -as an increasing number of people do these days. Twenty minutes later I got a reply from Sun Life – they apologized and wanted to know more information… would I DM them an email address so they could get in touch.
Over the next few days I exchanged emails with one of the senior social media specialists – they apologized again, wanted to find out more specific information so that they could follow up internally. I don’t know whether they did, or whether any action has been taken to ensure that the problem doesn’t happen again, but that’s not important. [For the record, I suspect they have done whatever they can to stop the same thing happening again].
The reason for writing this is that it demonstrates how small businesses should respond to negative feedback online. Sun Life didn’t ignore the problem. They didn’t try and blame somebody else, and they didn’t try and turn it in to an opportunity for a smart-ass response. They started a conversation. They took it offline [because these conversations don’t need to be had in public], and they’ve turned it in to both a customer service opportunity and an opportunity to gather information that can be used to improve the sales process.
Most importantly they’ve ensured that an incident beyond the direct control of the company doesn’t negatively impact my perception of the company. Does your business have a plan for dealing with negative feedback online?
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