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Event experience | 27 March 2015

6 Keys To Respond To Negative Attendee Feedback

Siobhan Becker

“The event ran late.”

“Your speakers weren’t engaging.”

“I will not be returning.”

These kinds of comments can kill any event planner’s mood. You worked hard on your event – you secured the venue, arranged for catering, made the schedule, monitored your website and social media pages, and sent emails to everyone throughout the whole process. Sometimes things just don’t run smoothly despite all of your hard work. Why can’t all attendees see that?

Social media can be used in part to measure your event’s success. Your guests’ comments provide instant feedback. While it’s natural to take negative comments on social media personally, it’s possible to turn complaints into lessons that better your future or current event(s). Here are some tips on handling negative social media feedback from attendees:

1. Reflect On Your Event: Why do you think you got that specific piece of negative feedback? Think back to the moments your attendees are talking about. Was a session running behind? Did a speaker lose his or her audience halfway through a presentation? Was there anything you could do to solve the specific problem? If not, how could you have better managed the expectations of attendees to reduce or eliminate complaints? Alternatively, could you have offered affected attendees an additional perk to make them forget about their complaint?

2. Respond Politely: Your first instinct may be to refute all negative comments, but instead, thank the attendee for their feedback and ask him or her why they feel the way they do. Resist the urge to delete or ignore negative comments – chances are someone’s already seen it and is looking to see how you react.

Remember that social media is an extension of your brand, so respond the way you would if the person were right in front of you. (As long as your response is polite, and helpful and doesn’t involve wrestling the complaining person to the ground).

3. Acknowledge The Issue Publicly: If you see a pattern of complaints about a certain aspect of your event, you may want to consider posting to your social media page to address the issue. Alternatively, you may want to send a push notification to attendees, assuming you’re using an event planning platform that supports that functionality.

That way you won’t have to respond to each individual attendee in the comment section. Create one post that can shared on your social media accounts that summarizes the issues at hand.

4. Stay Positive: Although you want to apologize to your attendees for any mishaps, you should not admit defeat in any of your posts or replies. Try writing a social media post, email or push notification that sounds like the following:

”We’re so sorry you were inconvenienced. How can we make this event better for you now or next year?”

Taking this tone offers the attendee the apology they want to hear and lets them know that you value their business and want to see them again. It also provides the attendee hope that their comments will be taken into account to create a better event next year.

5. Take It Offline: Rather than providing detailed support to an attendee with an event issue via Twitter or Facebook, it’s better to take the conversation offline. You can’t expect social media followers to read the entire chain of responses and replies between you and the event attendee. Followers will likely see bits and pieces of your full conversation and could draw inaccurate and potentially negative conclusions by not understanding the full story of the complaint and how it was resolved.

Instead, ask if you can send the attendee with an issue a direct message on the social media platform or via email. Doing so will also allow you to provide a more detailed and personal response to attendees, will eliminate overloading your social media channel and will help to preserve your online reputation.   

6. Offer A Solution: Chances are you have multiple social media pages. Monitoring one social media page can be a taxing job by itself. Constantly checking notifications from Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Instagram may seem impossible, but it’s actually pretty easy. Here are 3 resources for monitoring social media activity so you can effectively respond to attendees.

  1. Trackur: Search for keywords across your social media accounts to detect trending topics for your event. Trackur offers free and premium plans. Premium plans allow you to view influence and sentiment analysis. Free plans are more restricted and don’t allow you to see insights.

  2. Brandwatch: Let’s face it, not every tweet is worth the same amount of attention. Brandwatch helps you avoid social media noise with its filters and sentiment analysis. Brandwatch is a multilingual platform, which means you can gather feedback from attendees from all over the world.

  3. Google Alerts: Tired of constantly refreshing your page for new mentions? Google Alerts will send email or push notifications when your keywords are mentioned online. Google Alerts is free to use, and allows you to view mentions from websites that may not have social media accounts.

Remember, providing great customer service to an attendee who has an issue with your event is a great way to turn an attendee into an evangelist. If you can provide stellar customer support, you’re not only putting out a fire, or avoiding a disaster, you’re creating good will.

Use social media as a way of quickly engaging attendees with an issue and then take the conversation offline to provide a great solution. Stay calm and try to empathize with the event attendee in question.

Whether you’re new to the event planning industry, or are an event planning pro, the free white paper on event planner terms is worth a look. Click the button below to download your free copy!

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