How to Deal With Negative Comments Online
Usually, the pros outweigh the cons of being a small business on social media. But one thing many businesses worry about is customers leaving negative comments about you online.
The rise of social media, also saw customers becoming more and more fussy, and having social forum to vent their frustrations about bad experiences online. This includes anything from bad meals, products that don't work, complaints about staff, and even the experiences they have in store.
Back in the days when we didn't have social media to vent these frustrations, complaints would always be in private. You'd have to write a letter, call or in more recent times email businesses to complain. This means companies have really had to step up their game when it comes to customer service and dealing with complaints.
As a small business online, you'll inevitably come across some bad comments at some point in your time, but it's how you deal with these comments that will define how others perceive your brand online.
1. Don't get offended or defensive
Remember the customer is always right. You can't control what they will say, but you can control what you respond, therefore shaping their reply. Your role in this is to "extinguish the fire" as it were...
I've seen small businesses on social media get upset and defensive over negative comments. When you're replying, try to separate your emotion and remember it's business. These things happen. You can't please everyone. Ask yourself if what you're replying is helpful to the situation or fuelling the fire. If there's a chance your reply will fuel the fire, write something else. You might find fuelling the fire will mean other customers getting involved, and the worst possibly outcome is having customers arguing on your page.
2. Offer compensation
If a customer is annoyed or angry, make sure you let them know you understand their point of view (even if you don't) and want to help make it right. Ask them exactly what has happened and then work out a way of resolving the problem such as offering them compensation or a refund.
3. Absolutely do not ignore it
My third point, but arguably the most important is that you absolutely must not ignore any negative comments. Naturally we shy away from conflict, but running away, hiding and ignoring the problem is not the answer. This only angers people more. And whatever you do...DO NOT delete the negative comment. React to it sensibly and learn from it.
4. Outweigh the negatives with positives
Did you know that 81% of internet users now publish a video, photo or review online at least once per month. So why not ensure that this review is about your business? Offering customers a discount in return for a review is a brilliant way of getting positive reviews written about your business online. e.g. A client of ours who is a hairdresser asks customers to leave a review on their Facebook page in return for £5 off their appointment.
Get creative here, remember that getting customers to post a picture of your product/service on social media is just as important as a review - not to mention it provides you with free content to repost! Social recommendations are behind more than one quarter of all purchases made online. Getting a recommendation from a customer will influence their friends/followers to give your product/service a go too! Think of ways to encourage this such as competitions, discounts and reposting their images on your page.
You can turn bad PR into good PR, and you can also outweigh the bad with the good. Just remember not to take negativity personally....and don't blow it out of proportion. Negative comments are not a big deal, and they happen all the time online where social media is a customer service forum.