How to Respond to Negative Feedback Online

Can you remember the last negative comment that was posted about your organization on social media? Even more importantly, are you regularly monitoring what is posted on social media about your organization?

Articles published December 18, 2017

Negative feedback is easy to find. Look up any company on Facebook, Yelp, or TripAdvisor, and you’ll see negative reviews and comments. 

Can you remember the last negative comment that was posted about your organization on social media? Even more importantly, are you regularly monitoring what is posted on social media about your organization?

Your response in these situations is key. 

According to a PricewaterhouseCoopers study, 78 percent of people said they were influenced in some way by what they read or saw on social media, and 45 percent said reading reviews, comments, and feedback influenced what product they purchased. 

To appropriately respond to negative feedback, I’ve made some recommendations below. 

Don’t Take Away Their Freedom

When you receive negative feedback, your first reaction is usually to try and make it go away, either by hiding it or deleting it. However, if the customer who left the comment sees that it was removed, it could quickly escalate the situation.  

While it is a normal reaction, deleting it isn’t the right thing to do here. Instead, respond to it and resolve the problem or issue, if possible. The least you can do is acknowledge the feedback and apologize sincerely, if necessary.

The important part of this is to not take away your customers’ freedom to comment whatever they want. If you delete negative feedback every time, your customers will notice, and start to retaliate with even more negative feedback. Responding with a solution shows that you care about your customers, and seek to offer them the best experience possible. 

The three organizations below not only took away their customers’ freedom of speech, but also dealt with negative feedback inappropriately. Take a look. 

Take Charge: Don’t Be On Autopilot

A top-tier airline carrier got quite a bit of flack because of their automated responses. A customer tweeted them about a negative experience they had flying with them, and they tweeted back, saying: “Thanks for your support! We look forward to a bright future as the #”insert tagline here”.”

Automated responses can seem like a good idea on the surface, but in a real-life application they don’t always work. 

Money Problems: Don’t Threaten

One hotel took desperate measures when it came to their customer Yelp reviews. They threatened to fine reviewers $500 if they left the hotel a negative review. So what did their customers do? They went on the hotel’s Facebook page and posted all of their negative comments there.

No GMO: Don’t Delete

A well-known food manufacturer made the terrible decision of deleting all comments and questions on their social media pages that referred to their use of genetic modified organisms (GMOs). As you would expect, their customers got upset that their comments were being deleted without the food manufacturer actually responding.

Don’t Leave Your Social Media Pages Unmoderated

When you receive negative feedback, it’s not only important to respond appropriately, but to respond quickly. 

To do this, you need a form of social media moderation in place, so you can respond to questions, feedback, and comments 24/7, year-round. 

Social media moderation allows you to proactively engage customers to solve problems or mitigate the impact of negative comments. This is managed by a dedicated team of professionals (internal or outsourced) who constantly monitor the organization’s accounts. Having a professional social media moderation team is critical to the success of a company’s social identity and ensuring that it is an effective customer service tool.  

Use social media to turn a neutral or negative experience into a positive one. From a customer service point of view, it’s important to acknowledge every customer’s comment, even if you disagree with it. On social media, if a brand publicly acknowledges someone, half the battle is already won, since every customer rightfully demands your attention. 

Another good rule of thumb when you're faced with negative reviews on social media, is to apologize publicly and follow up privately. Your apology to the original post lets viewers know you're addressing the issue, and the follow-up makes your response more personal for the customer.

Obviously, if the negative feedback you receive is explicit or inappropriate and violates social media policies, you have the right to take it down. But if it’s purely negative and not offensive, then it’s best to leave it and respond to it. 

Social media moderation allows you to react to these things quickly, and delete anything explicit right away. With this in place, you can have peace of mind that your brand is being represented and cared for at all times, and any negative feedback will be dealt with professionally and immediately. 

Don’t Think It’s Going To Go Away

The downside of things that are posted on the internet is that they never truly go away. Even if you delete a negative post or review, it can still haunt you. Screenshots and caches ensure that negative post will be there for a long time. That’s why it’s best to respond, instead of delete. 

Getting negative feedback is most likely going to happen to your organization at some point. Being prepared for and knowing how to handle the situation is key. 

Moderating your social media platforms at all times is the best way to protect your brand, reputation, and public image.

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