How to Handle Negative Comments and Reviews Without Damaging Your Brand

February 9, 2018 Marco D’Amico

According to a recent study, 67 % of consumers now use social media networks like Twitter and Facebook to seek resolutions for issues, due to the issue being made public for all to see. It is thus extremely important to be present and engaged while answering customers on social media. Many customers look at your quality reviews, but also how you handled the negative ones as well. Although the intent is for each interaction to be a positive one, from time to time, even the most customer-centric businesses may encounter negative feedback.

Although companies like Yellow Pages can offer solid advice on how to develop your own customer service strategy, the way you handle negative feedback depends on you and your company’s values.

The problem with not planning ahead for negative Facebook feedback is that when a bad comment comes in, it can be hard not to feel emotional about it. Whether or not you believe the comment is justified, when people say bad things about your business, it’s hard not to feel defensive or angry. If you have a plan in place, those emotions are less likely to colour your response and make you say something that could damage your brand. So how should businesses respond to negative reviews or comments in order to provide a positive experience to their customers and entice them to leave a positive review? Let’s see below!

1. Respond – and respond quickly

A recent statistic in the world of social media customer service has left many business owners in shock, as over 1/3rd of social media complaints have gone unanswered. Furthermore, in 2017, Salesforce reported that 80% of consumers felt that an instant reply to their queries had a moderate to major influence on their loyalty to the brand. Thus, giving customers the silent treatment can make them feel that you don’t care and that may also be how other people perceive it as well. Some customers could go even further and leave negative reviews in regards to your response time or resolution management on your page or on other platforms to further vent about their dissatisfaction.

Your response time sends a message about how much you value customer feedback. In one study, 42 percent of respondents said they expect to receive a response from brands on social media within an hour, 25 percent expected a same-day response, and 33 percent said they expect to hear back within a few days. Even if you want to address the specific situation in a more private forum (such as by private message, email or a phone call) respond to the public message, let the customer know that someone will be in touch, and if possible, provide a timeline.

2. Treat customers like you would like to be treated

The way in which you handle the complaint is almost as important as the eventual resolution. 86% of online users prefer an honest tone when they are venting about their issues to the company in question. Being relatable, understanding and honest about caring is the first step in any positive resolution. Using phrases such as ‘’ I totally understand’’, ‘’I am terribly sorry’’ or ‘’ this is wrong and I will fix this right away’’ displays immediate relatability, while showing your devotion to a positive outcome for the customer.

3. Taking the conversation offline is safer

Just because a customer has made their complaint public doesn’t mean you have to hash it out for all to see. Requesting further information via email with specific or personal details is an excellent way to control the situation and take it away from the public platform. This then allows you to cover your tracks in case the customer is unwilling to seek a mutually agreeable resolution. Furthermore, your customer base may find the ensuing back and forth between you and your customer to be a tad annoying on their social media feeds and could end up unfollowing you.

4. Short and Sweet: Provide the best possible resolution

Whether you’re able to resolve the complaint within the comments or settle the matter privately, it’s important to show that there was a conclusion. You can do this by commenting to the customer that you’re happy to hear a representative from your business was able to resolve the situation and thanking them for their business or patience.

Don't go into too much detail or ask any further questions. This will prevent from possibly setting off the upset customer even more. The saying something that might cause the upset customer to add more negative feedback by replying to the review.Three sentences for your whole reply is a good rule of thumb.

5. Know when it’s OK to hit delete
In general, deleting negative comments can make it seem like you’re trying to hide something (and if a customer is really upset, they may keep posting anyway). However, if comments are particularly offensive, riddled with profanities or are lengthy rants that have nothing to do with your business specifically, it may be appropriate to delete the comment and block its author from commenting again. Posting guidelines on your “About” page for the types of comments that will and won’t be accepted can also provide a public rationale for those instances when you do have to delete a comment.

Negative comments don’t have to have a negative impact

Negative comments don’t have to harm your brand – but the best way to make sure this isn’t the case is by having a plan in place that will minimize the fallout.

The best thing you can hope for when responding to negative reviews is to have that unhappy consumer revise their initial review when their complaint is dealt with

There are solutions on the market that can allow you to synchronize all the various social and digital spaces where customers can review your business onto one platform.

One such example is that of NetSync Complete, which allows you to manage your reviews and complaints from one platform, where you will be able to respond to reviews from Facebook, Yelp, and more! Instead of having to go and check every single account, one by one, this solution can help you save time and focus on delivering quality customer instead!

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