The ease with which a disgruntled customer can rant about your company and brand on social networks may scare you away from incorporating them into your marketing plan. Don’t let it. As the saying goes, “You can’t please all of the people all of the time.” And in our socially connected world, dealing with negative comments on social media is just part of the reality of running a business.
Although you strive for perfection, the longer you're in business, the more likely you will have a customer who is less than pleased with their experience. Your followers will share whatever thoughts they have about their experience with your business on their social networks. If the statistic holds true that people share a positive experience with one person but a negative experience with seven, then one negative comment in the newsfeed of an upset customer can reach an exponentially greater number.
Remember, it’s called “social” media for a reason. Your business has social channels to connect with customers and to show that you care by providing a two-way conversation. They "Like" and "Follow" you because they are fans of your company, brand, and products. They appreciate the service you provide or want to be the first to know about a new feature or special offer.
They also want to connect with your brand to offer feedback of their own and have their voice heard. That includes negative feedback. It’s your job to highlight positive reviews, address problems and complaints honestly, and continue to promote your brand across your social media channels.
While you cannot and, in fact, should not prevent negative feedback on social media, the way in which you respond can help avoid backlash and even turn negative feedback into a positive customer experience.
So, what's the best way to deal with negative comments about your company or products?
Don't delete negative feedback
You have the ability to delete negative posts from your social newsfeeds, but it’s not recommended. Unless they use profanity or are vulgar or inflammatory in some way, removing negative posts makes you look like you’re hiding something. Show your fans and followers how well you handle the situation by addressing their concerns promptly, honestly, and professionally.
Don’t ignore negative feedback or hope that it will go away. Being unresponsive only fuels your customer’s anger and encourages the user to keep posting until they get a reply. In addition, waiting too long to respond to any post, negative or positive, sends the message that you don’t care about customer service. This just hurts your business reputation.
Take the high road
Sure, a negative comment can feel insulting, but having a public fight with a customer is plain petty and unprofessional. Don't get defensive or blow your top. Instead, keep your cool and be respectful. Admit that you messed up, empathize, and apologize. More often than not, the unhappy customer just wants to be heard. Remember the old adage, “The customer is always right”? Keep the tone light, even playful. Try to see the situation from their point of view and offer them the opportunity for you to make it right. Yep – ask for a second chance. If the user keeps on venting while you stay calm and collected, it will just make them look foolish.
Take it offline
The way that you respond to unflattering comments shows that you care about maintaining a professional relationship with your customers and value the feedback that they provide, including listening to their complaints. Respond politely on your public page to each visitor’s unique concern and encourage him or her to contact you privately by private message, email, or phone. Engaging with the customer initially in public demonstrates to other fans and followers that you are open to hearing from them, too, but that you’ll also respond personally to any concern at hand.
By staying polite and professional, even a negative post can turn out to be a positive experience. In the end, your social reputation will be the winner.