How to Handle Negative Comments & Reviews
Remember what it was like when you read your first positive Facebook review? Oh, the joy! As more positive comments rolled in you thought "My hard work is paying off!" Life was good!
Then one day you got up, checked your Facebook page and, what did you see? A complaint. Someone's angry with you and they're shouting it to the world. Your heart sinks. How could this happen?
If it hasn't happened already, it will. Along with all the marketing advantages social media brings is the risk that an angry customer will complain. It won't be pretty. It won't be quiet. And, everyone from your followers to your mom will know.
What should you do? Jump up and down and clap your hands in delight, that's what. Why? You've just been handed a golden opportunity. Here's why.
Something's Not Right ...
When someone happens upon your Facebook business page, they're looking not only for information about what you do but how you do it. They read reviews to evaluate your products and services, but also to see how you communicate and respond. They need to get to know you before they trust you with their money.
Most people who research your business are realistic - they understand that not every transaction is perfect. What they want to know is how you deal with problems when something goes wrong. If they see you did everything in your power to make things right, they'll trust you to do the same for them.
If your first reaction is to ignore a negative comment, ignore your first reaction. Also ignore the urge to respond by typing an angry "WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE???" response. Take deep breaths. Think before you respond.
Respond the same day within hours if at all possible. Your first response should be friendly as well as personal, using the individual's name. If you're already aware of the problem, offer a solution to make it right. If this is the first you've heard, ask for more details. If necessary, post a public response to show you're working on it and contact the poster privately to figure out the details.
I'm Sorry, Really I Am
Apologize. Apologize if the mix-up was your fault, apologize if it wasn't. If your business was at fault, say so. Take ownership of the mistake and vow to make it right. A whopping 71 percent of those who experience positive customer service on social media recommend the business to others. Do this right and your customer service reputation can only grow.
If you've been online for a while, you know there are trolls and troublemakers who like nothing better than to shake things up. And as a business professional, you also know there are times when nothing pleases a customer no matter how hard you try. Responding to legitimate complaints is one thing, responding to agitators is another.
Remember - you can't delete negative reviews on Facebook but you can delete comments. If a comment is baseless with no supporting details or contains profanity or objectionable material, delete it. You don't have time to waste on mischief-makers who have no dog in the fight.
A viewer's perception of negative reviews depends on your responses. If people see you do everything in your power to satisfy a customer, the negative review may, in fact, become a shining example of how hard you'll work to turn things around.
It's Not Personal
When I was a freelance web designer, I was trolled. My company's name and website address were on a small business website. I had not designed the site, but took care of updates and maintenance for the business owner. The business owner graciously listed my company on his links page. I also listed his company on my site as a reference.
The guy who trolled me accused me of taking credit for the design when it was clear another company developed the site originally. My troll emailed me at every opportunity, filled out the contact form on my site over and over again and called me every name in the book. I finally reported him to his ISP and the harassment stopped. I, of course, felt violated and hurt. How could this guy accuse me like this without getting the facts first?
Of course, it wasn't personal. The guy didn't know me. Whether he thought what he was saying was true or he had too much time on his hands, I don't know. But, I knew the truth. Difficult as it is, try not to take complaints personally. People are angry at their situation or confused in their perceptions. It's not about you.
The Takeaway: Don't despair over a negative review or comment. Instead, reply using the customer's name, acknowledge the customer's situation, take ownership of mistakes and offer a solution. You have the perfect opportunity to show off your customer service prowess.
Do you have a story about dealing with a negative review? Leave your comments below.