Six Tips for Responding to Negative Feedback

Peter Roesler, President - Web Marketing Pros

By Peter Roesler

President, Web Marketing Pros

social-commentsOne reason some people are wary of putting their business on social media is they worry about receiving negative comments and feedback from customers. Negative comments on social media can be frustrating to a business owner because they are public and for all to see. But this is one of those situations where a crisis represents an opportunity. When handled properly, a company’s response to negative comments can help resolve legitimate issues as well as build brand loyalty among customers. Here are six tips for responding to negative feedback.

  1. Don’t Immediately Delete Negative Comments
    Many companies try to respond to negative comments by deleting them. Certainly, some negative comments should be removed immediately, such as comments with racist content, profanity, or sexual material. Some social media applications (like Facebook) allow users to filter comments for these kinds of terms. But removing all negative comments is counterproductive. If a poster has a legitimate concern and it’s just deleted, the conversation will simply move to a different location online. Also, ignoring or deleting a legitimate comment may aggravate the person and a small issue can become something larger than it needs to be when a simple acknowledgement may be all the person wanted. And social media audiences will become skeptical of an organization that acts like it has something to hide.
  2. Respond Quickly
    One way social media has changed corporate public relations is that people expect fast responses to their questions and issues. This means responses in hours, not days. Strive to reply to all comments, positive or negative, within 24 hours of the initial post. This is especially true for organizations that are facing a crisis situation, when word travels quickly through social media. Many fans and news outlets look to an organization’s social media channel for official statements in emergency situation before they look for press releases. ,
  3. Let Your Fans Defend the Organization
    While many negative comments require some response from the organization, there are times when fans will handle the defense. Allowing fans to be ambassadors for an organization produces a more trustworthy reply for issues of personal opinion. To illustrate, is someone were to say they didn’t like a certain product, rather than give a corporate response on the product’s virtue, letting fans of the product say why they like it would be a far more satisfying response.
  4. Remain Calm
    It’s important for social media administrators to remember that negative comments normally come from people that are upset and thus they may be acting irrationally or emotionally. Be sure to stick to the facts, neither taking the attack personally or trying to match the emotion of the poster. Keep it professional, there will always be people who are trying to start a fight. Also, remember to be honest. Depending on the context, admitting to a mistake can show integrity and build trust in the brand.
  5. Respond Publicly but Move Conversation Offline
    Be sure to initially respond to comments on the thread they were posted, this way, everyone who saw the comment can see that the organization responded to the issue. Ask upset posters to send a private message, e-mail or phone call to better address the concern. This helps reduce the potential negative impact. If the issue has a positive resolution, be sure to post that on the original thread in a low-key way (e.g. “Thanks so much for letting us know. I hope the issue has been resolved for you. Let us know if you have any further issues.”)
  6. Document Controversial or Extremely Negative Feedback
    While most negative comments are harmless enough, there are some cases when negative feedback can escalate into a more serious matter. If a comment contains fraudulent claims or strong legal allegations about an organization, take a screen capture or document the comment in some form or another. On some social media platforms, posters can modify or delete a posts, so it’s useful to keep a record if the matter is ever contested and proof is required.

While it does not specifically relate to responding to negative comments, providing an avenue for customer to airing their complaints will reduce the amount of negative comments a company will receive via social media. Customers who leave negative feedback are often looking to vent or to seek resolution to their issue. Ultimately, negative feedback is a customer service issue. By publicizing other channels for resolving customer issues, and ensuring that issues brought to those channels receive prompt attention, social media channels can remain open for those who want to provide positive feedback.

In the end, properly responding to negative feedback on Facebook can help customers develop trust in a brand. It shows that an organization is attentive to their base and cares about their concerns. Though it may take more effort to respond to negative comments instead of just deleting them.

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