A negative social media comment or review is never something a brand looks forward to, especially if they’re a small business trying to grow a positive online presence. However, don’t panic if you do receive a negative review, as there are certain ways you can deal with them and still come out on top.
Reviews of any kind, including negative ones, are opportunities to show your company values and ethos. If they are dealt with effectively, bad reviews can highlight your exceptional customer service.
Here are some top tips for dealing with negative social media reviews and making sure your positive business image remains intact:
Assess the review
You should only respond to genuine complaints, reviews or issues. There will be people out there, known as ‘trolls’, who are out to cause trouble on social media but may never have even used your products or services. Responding to false comments will only add fuel to the fire, so, if you’re certain it isn’t a sincere complaint, it’s often best to ignore them.
Acknowledge it as soon as possible
If you recognise the review or comment as a genuine concern, it’s best to respond quickly to show you have taken it seriously. Be authentic and sincere in your response as this promotes your positive brand image, humanises your company and makes you more relatable to customers.
By responding to the post quickly, you demonstrate you are being proactive and want to resolve the issue. Your efficient communication will be seen by other users on social media, drawing their attention to your excellent customer service!
Personalise your response
On a related note, you should always make sure to avoid automated responses. Customers are extremely wise to this type of mass message and it won’t give the impression that you really care about their concerns.
Instead, you should write a personalised response that directly acknowledges the specific concerns of the person who complained. Whether that’s concerns about product quality, service levels or a bad piece of press, offer a sincere and relevant apology and show how you are making steps to improve and how you wish to resolve the situation. You can do this by reiterating their original Tweet, comment or post in your response and then providing the next step.
Don’t make excuses
As much as a knee-jerk response is tempting, especially if you don’t feel as though you’ve done anything wrong, it’s important you don’t explain the problem away with excuses or become defensive. This will give the impression that you are avoiding the issue rather than striving to resolve it or, worse, that you are shifting the blame back onto the customer.
Although you shouldn’t make excuses for the specific incident, you can indicate in your response that a complaint is rare for your brand and you have had lots of positive feedback over the years.
Follow public response with private resolution
It is good to acknowledge the complaint publicly so that other people can see that you are taking action, but the final resolution should be between the customer and your business. The best way to organise this is to provide a method of contact such as an email address or send them a direct message through the social media platform.
Do also make sure to indicate on the social media thread or post that you have provided the customer with a private method of resolution as this will reassure other users.
Once you are communicating privately, it is best to offer a token of apology as well as resolving the original issue. This might be a discount code for a future purchase or the offer of a free visit. This will entice the customer to come back despite their previous negative experience and will allow you to rebuild your relationship with them.
We hope these tips to responding to negative reviews and comments on social media have been useful. It’s best to stay calm and carefully consider your next steps rather than reacting with your emotions, but also remember to be speedy and efficient!
Kate O’Sullivan is the Managing Director of ADPR, a PR and communications agency with over 29 years of experience in creating and delivering strategic communications campaigns for its clients across a wide range of sectors.