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Why must you respond to negative comments in social media?

I’ve talked again and again and again about how bad service can kill you in the social age. In fact, I just mentioned yesterday how the customer is still king and how, armed with friends, fans and followers on review sites and social outposts, your customers often tell your story more effectively than you can.

But I saw a great example last night of how important it is to engage with your customers online and address any negatives right away.

You see, C.C. Chapman, author of the amazing “Content Rules: How to Create Killer Blogs, Podcasts, Videos, Ebooks, Webinars (and More) That Engage Customers and Ignite Your Business” and founder of Digital Dads (I always think of him as the ur-“Daddy blogger”), had a bad experience when checking into his hotel yesterday (Full disclosure: I frequently work in the hospitality industry and have friends at Kimpton, but they aren’t a client and haven’t ever been).

Now, as a digitally savvy guy, C.C. decided to tell his friends.

On Twitter.

All 33,000 of them.

He said:

By contrast, Kimpton has about 20,000 followers on Twitter. Or, y’know, about 2/3 as many as C.C.

To the hotel chain’s credit, they jumped on the issue and responded almost immediately:

And, having built up plenty of cred among their customers over the years, more than a few folks tweeted C.C. to let him know that it was unusual behavior for the company. Their responsiveness impressed him:

But, as he points out:

“Damage is done.” Ouch.

This isn’t a guy who gripes for fun, mind you. In fact, I can say I find C.C. to be one of the most positive voices on Twitter (and G+ and his blog and his book and…). Nope, this is just a guy experiencing a new brand for the first time and discovering that the experience didn’t match what the brand claims about itself. For all he knows, Kimpton lied to him.

Now, I know Kimpton pretty well as a brand. I’ve always admired them. And, given how swiftly their social listening team jumped on the issue, I’d be surprised if they didn’t recover and help C.C. and his fellow guests have a good time. But they’re swimming upstream and not just with their current guests. A customer had a bad experience, told his (33,000) friends and added to the brand’s story. One of the reasons I encourage companies to address every negative review is because you’re not just talking to the customer who had a bad experience. You’re talking to all the potential customers who read about it, too.

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Tim Peter

Tim Peter is the founder and president of Tim Peter & Associates. You can learn more about our company's strategy and digital marketing consulting services here or about Tim here.

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