Tips for Business from the Business Recovery Center

6 Tips for Handling Negative Comments on Social Media

By Kathy Bazan, BRC Consultant

 It happens. Someone posts a negative review about your business on social media. Now, how do you deal with it?

Tip #1: Write out a clear strategy BEFORE this happens.

Right now—when you are NOT dealing with a negative review– write an outline of your strategy on HOW you will respond to negative social media comments.

Ideally, your plan should include:

  1. Reply publicly to the person who posted.
  2. Apologize sincerely.
  3. Write a response you can edit to fit the situation. “We are so sorry that you feel this way. How can we make it better? We are sending a direct message to your Inbox so that we can find a solution which satisfies you.”
  4. Direct message the person. Take the conversation out of public view.

This is your plan. When a negative comment is posted, your first step is to Take a Deep Breath.

Tip #2: Take a Deep Breath

The longer the interval between when the customer interacted with you and when the negative review was posted, the less it is about you or your company.

There is an old adage that punishment rolls down the hierarchy: after a parent verbally disciplines a child, the child may go outside to discipline the dog verbally even though the dog is completely innocent. In this scenario, you might be the dog. The customer might have had a negative encounter with a boss, a spouse, or a traffic cop and is taking it out on you.

Take a deep breath. Walk away from your computer. Remember your plan for dealing with these negative statements. Put your strategy to work. You can do this!

The good news: if you handle these negative comments with proper care, you can improve the reputation of your business!

Tip #3: Interact through Direct Message (DM).

Here’s an example. A fan of my corporate Facebook page posted a complaint. I posted that I would be direct messaging her with a solution so that everyone could see I responded quickly. I then direct messaged her, and we found a solution. Later, she posted on the page the amazing customer care she received!

Even though this was through DM, I conducted the conversation professionally. Why? Screenshots of the conversation might have been posted by the complainer if the conversation had not gone well…and would have made it 14 times worse!

Tip #4: Offer and Diffuse

The customer is always right. (Acknowledge this even if you don’t agree.) To assuage the client, you might need to offer free shipping, free products, and/or a discount.

Over the long term, finding a way to mollify an angry customer will save you money. Why? You won’t waste time engaged in an ongoing, unwinnable social media exchange with this client.

Tip #5: The Delete Key Is NOT Your Friend

 While deleting the negative comment seems like a quick way to handle the situation, it is NOT!

The person who feels that they have been unjustly silenced by the deletion is highly likely to post a more scathing review. The angry client can reduce your control over this situation by tagging your company in posts and/or blasting your brand on their own personal platforms. The mole hill just became a mountain of negative comments.

Tip #6: Consistency is Your Friend.

Be consistent in your responses. Right now, there are those who seem to delight in calling out a business owner if there is any deviation from the mask policy. In those cases, apologize publicly—since you might not have observed the other customer taking off their mask—and take the conversation to direct messaging. Offer to let the customer call in an order, pay for it, and it will be delivered for curbside pick-up by this customer.

Remember: the angrier a customer is, the more likely they are to contact the president, the pope, OSHA, the police, and anyone one else they think will terrify you. Be careful. Now is your opportunity to diffuse, dissolve, and solve the problem—to turn an enemy into a loyal customer who feels they were heard, they were treated with respect, and that you took action.

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