Editor's Note: This post by Jessica Levco originally appeared on Ragan's Healthcare Communication News and previews the 5th Annual Health Care Social Media Summit in October, which is part of Social Media Week at Mayo Clinic.
Generally speaking, people want to be heard. They need acknowledgement (although you shouldn’t openly admit to any wrongdoing, for legal reasons). In most cases I’ve encountered, people are reasonable and willing to work toward a solution. For a small minority, nothing short of a miracle is going to shift them from angry to even mildly understanding. We’ll review actual instances where I’ve dealt with both varieties of negative feedback, pulling directly from my hospital’s Twitter and Facebook accounts.
Give us a quick example of something weird that’s happened on your Facebook wall.
I had a woman post on my hospital’s Facebook page as if she was writing to a former classmate. I thought she had just posted it to the wrong wall, so I reached out and let her know she had posted it to the hospital’s wall. Well, that’s what she meant to do. She was trying to reconnect with her classmate, and all she knew was that her classmate (an employee) drew blood at the hospital.
With a little detective work, I was able to find the employee and give her the message. I’m not sure whether she attended the reunion.
What are three things a hospital communicator should do when someone is upset on social media?
- Respond as quickly as possible.
In many cases, you’ll be getting a tiny bit of information about the problem and a lot of anger. Let the person know you’re listening and interested in finding out what’s going on.
- Fix it (if you can).
Some issues will be easy to fix. I’ve sent a patient with Celiac disease a gluten free meal after the wrong tray was delivered to her room. I’m sorry she got the wrong meal to begin with, but glad she reached out so we could make it right. Other issues will be much more complex, like a patient’s family who posted complaints we were killing their father (true story, made even more difficult because the father was here under confidential status). Fix what you can as fast as you can.
- Take it offline.
Be sure you show the social media world you’re responding to the person who’s expressed a problem, but particularly in health care, it’s best to move the discussion offline (or at least to a private message) at some point. I have a great relationship with our service excellence department, and they’re happy to follow up on any complaints that reach us through social media. If I can’t solve the problem myself, I know I can get the person in touch with our service excellence team, and they’ll do their best to make things right. My strength may be in social media management, but they’re the experts in customer service; it’s a great collaborative effort.
See this page for details on all of the events in Social Media Week at Mayo Clinic (including links to Social Media Health Network member discounts), or go directly to the Ragan site to register for the Summit.