A business should be ready to accept the good, the bad, and the ugly on social media. Handling criticism and responding appropriately when consumers post positive and negative comments online is a huge asset. Today’s customer base is empowered. If they have a negative experience with any business, they can use their smartphone or any other device available to share it with not only their friends but also complete strangers throughout the world. From the standpoint of a business, this is a scary proposition. One cannot control the online posting of negative comments about a business. Hence, it is wiser to formulate a plan for what a business is going to do to respond to criticism. Responding appropriately can turn a negative comment into a positive one and not doing so can only make things worse. Given below are the simple dos and don’ts of responding to negative reviews.
1) Avoid ignoring or deleting the comment – Ignoring or deleting a negative comment is tantamount to putting a caller on hold and never getting back on the line. This is an expensive mistake, as customers might think that the business does not care about them. Everyone else who sees the comment and the lack of response from the business will be of the opinion that the business just doesn’t care. The message that is being sent out is that the customer’s opinion doesn’t matter. This is an extremely risky message to convey to current consumers, the general public, and prospects.
2) Respond quickly- A timely response is key – preferably within 24 hours or sooner if possible. A timely response sends out the message that a business listens to its customers and fixes problems promptly. An initial response like ‘We are sorry and we’ll look into that and get back to you with a private message within 48 hours’ would be extremely helpful. Basically, angry customers are like us and want to be heard and understood. Apologising can go a long way in diffusing a potentially hazardous situation. A genuine apology is a good start but it is equally important that a company is able to fix the problem.
3) Acknowledge the customer’s frustration – If responses from a business get argumentative, customers might choose to support businesses they feel they can trust. The specific issue that the customer has touched on in their negative review should be addressed. Acknowledging a customer’s frustration makes a business seem sincere. It is important to recognize that the customer didn’t have the kind of experience they expected and the response should show empathy with the customer’s perspective.
4) Take the issue private – While responding to a comment, it is wise to try to encourage the customer to transition the conversation to a more private space like the direct messages of the social media platform the comment appeared in. For instance, a comment like, ‘Could you please private message us with details about your experience and contact information so customer service can contact you directly and work out a solution?’ can be effective.1-800-Flowers.com decided to have more staff on board for its Facebook community 24/7 for important holidays beginning in 2010. It committed to responding publicly within an hour of any complaint. It promised to not only fix customers’ problems but also to deliver larger bouquets and orders than those customers had paid for. Many customers ended up posting positive comments online. The added resources kept the brand’s public reputation high.