All businesses will be confronted with negative feedback at one point or another, the important thing is knowing how to respond in a professional manner. Whether it be from trolls sent out by your competition, or legitimate complaints from loyal customers, managing negative feedback swiftly and calmly will speak volumes about your brand.

Make Negative Comments a Learning Experience

If you are in business long enough, you are eventually going to have an unhappy customer. These used to be handled through email and customer service departments, hidden for the most part from public eye and giving you more time to figure out the correct solution. In the age of social media however, where many companies do most of their marketing and customer interactions, leaving negative reviews is now the easiest way to get attention.

When you receive a negative comment, it is important that you first document it by taking a screen shot. Since comments can be altered and deleted, it’s good to have this backup for when it comes time to address the situation. Having to search through your comments or discovering that the original feedback has been modified, will make things more difficult for you later when trying to find a solution.

You can also use these screenshots as a tool to help train your employees on how to interact with an unhappy customer. There are many different types of complaints that people have and being able to provide real examples and how to properly manage them, will give your team a head start on perfecting customer relations in the future.

Engage Your Following

Whenever you receive a comment on social media you should do your best to follow it up with a response as quickly as possible. This kind of customer engagement lets your followers know that you care about their opinions and thoughts. It gives you an opportunity to engage with the public and show them that you are not just a corporate money machine, but care about their loyalty and satisfaction.

It is easier to respond to positive feedback, but when you receive negative feedback, it is doubly important to follow this up quickly. Do not ignore or delete any negative comments (unless they are definitely from a troll), as this will make it seem like you are trying to hide something. If you wait too long, other followers will see this ignored comment and it could change their opinion of your brand.

Keep Calm and Rise Above

In the case that your social media profile has received a negative comment, stay calm and do not engage in tit-for-tat. Because you won’t have the time to sit with it and formulate a response the way you would through more private avenues, make sure that you keep things light and inquisitive. If you respond to negative comments with dismissive defensiveness, it will only hurt your company image and push away loyal customers.

Here are some tips for following up with a negative comment:

  • Apologize for their dissatisfaction
  • Ask for details (or guide them to a more private place to discuss the issue)
  • Assure them that you will work on making it right
  • Do this with a positive outlook and a sincere curiosity

Apologizing for whatever happened, even without knowing the details, shows compassion towards your customers. It will translate as “We never want our followers/customers to have any kind of negative experience with us.” Even if the comment is unfounded, it is important to send the message to everyone who see it that you care about their experience.

Asking for details will give the impression that you are sincere in wanting to make things right. Engaging with the customer in this way will allow their voice to be heard and can help in calming them down. It shows that your company doesn’t cater exclusively to praise and wants everyone to feel good about doing business with you.

On the other hand, ignoring negative feedback will only bolster the dissatisfaction of that party, and show your other followers that you don’t care. You never want to create an opportunity for resentment to grow, so nip it in the bud immediately by reaching out.

You can also ask the customer to contact you directly, through e-mail, direct message, or your customer service department. This will make it a more one-on-one experience and show that you are very focused on solving the issue. It will also keep your comments section from being sidetracked by the negative feedback.

Always reply to negative feedback with the assurance that you will look into the situation and come to a resolution that will make them happy. ‘The Customer Is Always Right’ slogan goes a long way in a public forum and will solidify your professionalism in the eyes of your followers.

Generate Positive Feedback

The best way to deal with negative feedback is to balance it out with positive feedback. The more positive comments you have, the more likely that any negative ones will seem like a fluke.

To generate positive feedback, make sure to respond to every comment that comes in. This can start a chain of responses that piggy-back off each other, especially if you are using humor throughout. This is a great way to engage with your followers, leaving responses that give room for them to respond in kind.

Another thing you can do is target your postings in a way that invites conversation. The more opportunities you give your followers to engage with you on social media, the better. This will improve your traffic and water down any negative comments you receive, as they will be buried within the positive.

Always make sure to maintain an upbeat, calm and professional voice when interacting with your followers. While they may become emotional and distressed, it is your responsibility to stay calm and levelheaded. Take care to address all feedback, positive and negative, with the same compassion and interest. Keep moving conversations forward and leave your customers feeling like they are having human interactions with a company that has their best interest at heart.