If you would like to see some social media crisis communications in action today, you may want to take a look at the Facebook and Twitter accounts of Nectar.
The loyalty programme found itself facing an online backlash after announcing a new partnership with the Daily Mail yesterday (15/8).
There have been, at the time of writing, more than 5,500 comments on its Facebook page alone while its Twitter account has gone into meltdown.
The organisation itself has admitted it has been facing a ‘high volume of questions’, but unfortunately its response has not been pretty.
Nectar fell into a trap which has tripped up many other organisations trying to deal with crisis media management incidents online – it has failed to sound human.
It has instead stuck rigidly to a pre-agreed corporate line, which it has copied and pasted relentlessly.
Here it is: “Hi (insert name), we’re sorry to hear you’re not keen on the partnership. The primary factor in any new partnership is our current customer base. From our data and research, we know that there is a large crossover between our customers and Mail readers. Hopefully, you can take part in other offers which you find more appealing. Thank you for the feedback anyway.”
If you look at the comments section of its Facebook page, you will see this response posted over and over again. And it looks pretty turgid, which is surely not something any organisation would want to come across from its responses.
Of course it is tough when you are in this type of situation and dealing with large numbers of comments, but continuingly pressing Ctrl + C and Ctrl + V on the keyboard, seemingly without much thought, is not the answer and it does not suggest you really care about or value your customers’ views and opinions.
At the very least Nectar would have benefited from having a wider range of replies that it could have used in this situation – something which surely should have been worked up as part of its planning for the announcement. It was, after all, linking up with a newspaper which is well known for polarising opinion.
It may also have benefited from carrying a fuller response on its website which it could link to from its social media posts.
But above all else it would have benefited from its social media team being give the freedom and flexibility to respond more individually, with a less corporate and robotic tone.
Oh man. They need to get a decision making human onto the keyboard, stat— Beth Murray (@bmbm) August 15, 2017
Not helpful that they seem to be replying with the same stock/corporate response to all the messages... disaster!— Cheryl Tracy (@Cheryl_Tracy1) August 15, 2017
On Twitter, it should be pointed out that a slightly more helpful approach has been adopted, telling individual customers to send a direct message if they want to cancel accounts and advising not to post pictures of ripped up cards due to identity fraud concerns. But it is still a highly repetitive ‘Sorry… here’s how to cancel your account’ message.
Nectar is not the first organisation to fall into the copy and paste trap during a crisis. We’ve previously blogged about how Cadbury adopted the same approach when it faced social media criticism for supposedly removing the word ‘Easter’ from its Easter eggs.
While it may sound risky to allow social media teams to move away from pre-approved lines during a reputational crisis media management incident, customers greatly prefer the human approach and it can turn a negative story into something much more positive.
O2, for example, used humour in its individual responses to disgruntled customers during a service outage, and it turned the outrage into positive PR.
Right now that must feel like a distant dream for Nectar’s social media team.
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