3 Better Ways To Respond to Negative Comments

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It comes out of nowhere, seemingly random. You don't see it coming, and it derails your every thought. It's an attack on not just you, but your reputation.

It sounds like a horror story, but it's every small business owner's nightmare: The dreaded negative comment.

If you're on social media long enough, this nightmare will become a reality for your business. A disgruntled customer, a former employee, a concerned patron or just an Internet troll will come onto your platform and spew negativity on a post or a page. You don't get a choice as to if it's going to happen to you, but as always, you get to choose how to respond.

Below are three better ways to respond to negative comments.

1. Do Not Delete The Comment

As tempting as it is to delete the comment and ban the user (so tempting), do not delete the comment. Do not ban the user from your platform. Why? Because negative people are surrounded with negative people, both online and offline. If you delete their comment or ban them from your Facebook page, more often than not, they will find out and then recruit others to go to your page and spew negativity. You've just gone from one bad review to 10, 20, 10,000 bad reviews in a few days. You've seen the stories before, how one small business makes a misstep on social media and then a frenzy of outrage in the national news. Avoid it all by addressing the comment in one of two ways.

2. Respond, Apologize And Offer A Solution

If a negative comment appears on a post about an issue with your business, follow these three steps: respond, apologize and offer a solution. 

Respond within 24 hours of receiving the negative comment or complaint, just like you would respond within 24 hours to any comment on your page. The longer the comment goes dormant, the more potential backlash from the individual or others they recruit to ask the same questions on your page.

Apologize for any specific missteps or mistakes that you or an employee made. Taking ownership of the issue and make the individual feel heard. Even if you didn't do anything wrong, an apology can provide some closure and neutralize the concern. "Hi Karen, Thanks for reaching out, and we understand your concern. We know how upsetting it must be that you didn't receive your package when promised, and we apologize for the inconvenience."  There's an apology in this example, but you're not taking responsibility for the failure. You're apologizing for how the situation made the customer feel, and oftentimes, that's more than enough.

Offer a solution to the customer if you did do something wrong. Offering a coupon for $5 off their next purchase to be sent via email or expediting the shipping of a product wasn't shipped on time are minimal monetary expenses in potentially salvaging a relationship with a customer. And even if that begrudged customer doesn't buy again? Everyone on your page can see how your business responded to their negative review. That builds trust and affinity for your brand with potential new customers.

3. Message Privately

On Facebook, you have the ability to message a user who has commented or reviewed your page. Respond publicly with one comment using apology language above. If the user still isn't satisfied, take the conversation off your page and into your Inbox. Send a private message and address the details with the user there. Once personally contacted and given the ability to chat in real time, upset customers are often satisfied that their concerns are being heard and that a real person, not a faceless brand, is helping to resolve their issue. That level of personal care can end the airing of your dirty laundry on your brand's social media platform.

Answering negative feedback is critical. With almost 70% of customers researching businesses on social media before making a purchase, it's more critical than ever to know how and when to respond to negative comments. If you need help responding to negative feedback or managing your social media accounts, contact Checkmate Consulting for a free consultation.