Negative Feedback and How to Deal With It

Posted on November 12, 2016
Connecting and engaging with current and prospective customers on social networks is a fantastic way for a brand to show its human side, establish trust and loyalty as well as increase its awareness, traffic and ultimately sales. As we know it, an engaged social media following comes with regular posts of questions, and comments on your page talking about what they like (or dislike) about your brand.Ideally, your social media page can be your bank of positive feedback and great testimonials or your public disaster (a place where unhappy clients slam you with awry and negative comments).As hard as you may try, it’s almost impossible for everyone to give your brand a glowing review. Unfortunately, social media is often the next destination where disgruntled users go on the offensive, ensuring that the rest of your community gets to know that they’re angry.Your masses on social media can be ruthless, sometimes with good reason. But with your social profiles acting as the face of your brand, you need to handle with care any less-than-complimentary post that pops up from someone who likes your brand (or used to; so it appears)?Here are five ways to deal with the negative comment smoothly, and in the best way possible.

1. Acknowledge Negative Feedback

In most cases customers post negative feedback online because they feel they are not being listened to (either through phone, email or in store). So they choose to lash out to be heard. Some may do this to genuinely warn others not to use what they believe is a poor product. But the more social media savvy fans will do it to simply hurt and compel you to pay attention.Rapid response is of the essence here. Quickly acknowledging the client’s issue before it escalates and is picked up by other customers and prospects along the way can save you a lot of anguish. You don’t really need to have an immediate solution but an objective, non-judgmental enquiry into what exactly happened is enough to initiate the process towards constructive engagement and creating an opportunity to turn your negative experience into a rewarding one.And of course, you’ll need to follow this up with solid, practical actions.

2. Take the conversation out of the spotlight

Forums on social media may not be ideal for resolving complex issues. More often than not, public forums make it easy for the unhappy customer to harden their stance. Courteously offer to go on with the conversation on an appropriate forum; whether through email, phone or any other existing online support forum. Taking the conversation out of the spotlight should not be used as a means to “delete” the comment or silence the critic. It’s better to have people view your constructive response to the negative comment posted by a customer than get a flood of messages condemning you for curating out every negative social media comment.As a general rule of thumb, since you’re the admin of the page, never remove negative posts (this will only make it look like you’re hiding something). People always complain but as the social media manager, what you do after the complaint is what matters. Losing your cool would be the trashiest and most unprofessional fight your brand can ever have with a customer in public. Don’t do it!

3. Look at it from the customer’s perspective

Your customers don’t care about the issues that resulted to the problem they are having—whether a supplier let you down, or delivery was sent to the wrong address. All they understand is the inconvenience this has caused them, and possibly their customers.Don’t be too quick to list all the excuses as to why it happened. Even if your reasons are all genuine, your irate customers won’t care. They will only view this as a way of shifting blame, turning it into a red rag to a bull. It is worthwhile therefore to start every interaction from the customer’s viewpoint– what happened, what it meant to them and, ultimately, what you need to do to make it right.

4. Apologize when it’s your fault

Of course, managing social media isn’t for the faint-hearted. There are many companies on social media that find it really hard to say sorry. In most cases, it’s because they don’t want to bear the blame. Or probably don’t agree with the customer’s standpoint. But, if we can see it from the customer’s point of view as highlighted above, bitter arguments would be avoided.So if it’s obvious that your product failed, a sincere apology followed by a quick refund or replacement should nip the whole issue in its bud. If it was a case of service failure, then an apology along the lines, “We’re truly sorry that you did not receive the service you expect from us on this particular occasion” would be a good start. Following this up with something tangible like a money-off voucher for their next purchase can also help calm the situation.If the issue is universal, make an effort to personalise your responses without sounding like a robot so your customers are sure they’re not dealing with a customer service bot.

5. Walk the walk and talk the talk

Once you’ve acknowledged a problem, be sure to follow up with concrete actions to avoid going back where you began and potentially upsetting your customer and prospects even more. Once you’re out of the spotlight and got the conversation going with the unhappy customer, ensure you fully understand the problem and provide a realistic plan on the next steps to be used to fix it. If possible, pass this useful information on to your customer service representative.

In conclusion

The next time that negative feedback gets posted on your blog, Facebook or Twitter, the first thing to do is to take a deep breath. Especially when you’re just starting out, negative comments can really sting and with your ambition to succeed, you can be tempted to go personal. It’s crucial that you build a thick skin and deal with it calmly without blowing your top.