No matter how fantastic your customer service is, no matter how perfect your team members are, you're still going to receive the occasional negative comment on a review site or social media. Negative feedback is unfortunate, but it's part of the modern online business environment. It's all part of managing your online reputation, and just like with anything else, there's a wrong way and a right way to do it.
I've talked with a lot of business owners that were ready to jump into the online marketing world but were hesitant with the public aspect of it. One of the most common questions always asked is how do I respond to negative comments on social media and online review sites? In this blog post, we will go through the different ways to respond to negative feedback and how you can turn those people into some of your strongest brand advocates.
The first step is to monitor what is being said about your brand. If you're not listening, then you can't respond. For more about monitoring your online reputation dive into this blog post.
The Wrong Way
You love your company, and that passion shows in everything you do. When a negative comment appears online, the first reaction is to defend your company. Reacting in a defensive manner might not be the best way to approach negative comments.
Tens of thousands of people use review sites like Trip Advisor, Angie's List, Yelp, Google Local and countless others. These are great resources; however, they allow people to speak their minds somewhat anonymously. When someone is wronged or feels that they didn't receive the quality customer service, they use these sites to vent their frustrations.
As the person responsible for the reputation management of your company, you need to fight the urge to defend and explain yourself to these negative comments. Do not get into a public back-and-forth dialog with the commenters. Do not get defensive and go into great detail about the issue at hand. Getting defensive shines a negative light on your brand and only stirs the emotions of the commenter more. Many people use Facebook and other social media to voice their concerns about a company. If negative comments appear on your Facebook page, fight the urge to delete them. Deleting negative comments hurts open communication, takes away transparency, and eliminates a public opportunity for you to handle a situation correctly.
A word of caution. In certain situations, you may feel compelled to state your intentions publicly to give a refund or free product. While this might seem like a great way to correct a situation publicly and let others know you care about your customers, this can also backfire. A gesture like this could inspire others to voice their negative feedback publicly, or even make an issue up in order to get a refund or discount. It's best to announce refunds or free products privately, using email or by phone.
The Right Way
Negative online comments should be viewed as an opportunity for you to showcase how much you care publicly. If handled correctly you can hopefully turn the person who left the negative comment into a person who will then tell everyone how you exceeded expectations and handled the situation in a professional manner.
Instead of being defensive, apologize in a general but sincere way without going into details. Reply to the comment directly and inform them that you are looking into the issue. Also, ask them to reach out to you privately so that you can better support the issue.
Use these best practices for your online responses to reputation management situations. They will guide you through the potential rough waters of negative feedback.
- Listen up - monitor your business name, relevant keywords, and your competitors
- Determine if a response is necessary
- Respond appropriately
- Be general, be brief
- Don't get defensive, leave emotion out of it
- When appropriate, exceed their expectations
Most of the time, people just want to be heard. They want to know that you care about them and their situation. Reputation management and handling negative comments can be a tricky process, but no one should scare you away from social media or other types of review websites. Convert the haters into powerful brand advocates by being authentic, sincere, and transparent in your online responses.