How to handle negative comments on social media

05/03/2015

How to handle negative comments on social media

So you made your business social. Good for you! You created a Facebook page, got yourself a Twitter account and even figured out how to boost your business on Instagram. Things are going great. You’re happily counting the likes and the retweets, until you come across a rather nasty comment from an unsatisfied customer. What to do? For starters, take a deep breath and think before you act.

Here’s five easy steps to guide you through the process.

  1. Step away from the delete button

How you respond to negative feedback, whether it’s on Twitter or on Facebook, shouldn’t be very different from how you would handle an unhappy customer in real life. Deleting that comment for instance, would mean you just ignore your customers. You wouldn’t do that in your store or in your office, right? Right. Unless the comment is utterly obscene or inappropriate, you never delete it. Deleting it can be seen as if you’re trying to hide something.

  1. Say ‘I hear you’

Even if you don’t have an immediate solution, acknowledge the comment as soon as you can. You don’t want things to snowball or get picked up by other customers or prospects. Let your customer know that he’s being heard and will be attended to. Acknowledging him buys you time to think about how you will handle or solve the problem. An open, non-judgemental enquiry about exactly what happened is the first step towards a constructive engagement, and can help you identify the root of the problem, which makes it easier to respond.

  1. Take it outside

Don’t let yourself get tricked in participating in an endless discussion that’s visible and accessible for others. Your customer is already frustrated, and letting the conversation linger publicly, might work like a red flag on a bull. Acknowledge the problem publicly, but offer to continue the conversation in an appropriate forum – whether that’s phone, email or an existing support forum online.

  1. Respond with grace

By all means, avoid getting defensive. If you made a mistake, own up to it. Mistakes are only human. If you didn’t make a mistake, ask your customer what he feels you did wrong and what he feels would be a positive resolution. Offer him something tangible: a refund or a discount on his next purchase. Yes, sometimes you just need to pour a lot of sugar on it.

  1. Follow up and keep track

Mission accomplished? Well done. But don’t rest on your laurels now. Keep monitoring what’s being said, not only on your own website or the social media channels you manage, but on the internet in global. A simple tool like Google Alerts can help you keep track of what’s being said. You never know, there might be a serial commenter on the loose.

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