Wednesday, May 14, 2014

How to Handle a Negative Online Comment

No one or no business wants to deal with negative comments, customer complaints or bad publicity.  The truth of the matter is every company in business today has had an upset client or customer. Every single one.  What I am trying to say is that it's okay and actually normal.  Any entrepreneur or business owner can look great when things are going well, but the integrity of a business owner is revealed when things don't go according to plan or when there is adversity.  In this age of social media where it is easy to reach out to a company with the a keyboard or mobile device, we need to be ready for feedback that is not necessarily positive.  Here are some tips on how to deal with a negative comment online.

1. Act Quickly: Regardless of the problem we are dealing with (off or online), it's best to take the "bull by the horns" and hit the issue head on as quickly as possible.  There is nothing worse than letting a problem fester and boil over.  I recommend checking comments from social media accounts throughout the day to respond promptly (whether it's good or bad feedback). I use online management tools for my clients that alerts me when comments come in so I can monitor them in real time.

2. Don't Delete It: One of the biggest mistakes I see (in my opinion) is when a person or brand deletes negative comments or feedback.  Here's why: First of all, could we get away with that face to face? Imagine someone having a complaint or voicing their opinion and we just ignored it or dismissed it.  This would make the customer even MORE upset.  Deleting comments online does the same thing.  Secondly, everyone (our other followers) has already seen the post. It's out there.  Now they are looking to see how we respond.  If we delete the comment, people know. They will think that we have something to hide or are running from the problem.  It's best to comment back and address the situation. Your followers will respect you for it and feel comfortable offering feedback in the future.  Speaking for myself, I would like to know if someone had a complaint or criticism so I had a chance to fix what was wrong.  Here's what's really cool though:  When someone is completely out of line and has negative things to say for no reason and you respond professionally, your other loyal followers will go to bat for you and defend you. Publicly! No need to hide from the trolls. Your fans will call them out for you.

3. Fix the problem: Lastly, and most importantly, we must fix the problem.  Many years ago I was a manager in the restaurant business. When an order was wrong, or there was a complaint with the food, etc, our job was to fix the problem and make the customer happy.  Same thing online.  If someone has a complaint or has something negative to say, it's best to see what can be done to fix it.  I advise you to comment asking the customer to call you directly or message you so you don't beat down your audience with a back and forth conversation. This will allow you to get to the root of the problem and hopefully make the customer happy.

Our number one goal in business is to serve and please our clients, but there will always be someone with something negative to say.  If this does happen, I recommend addressing it and keep helping our loyal following.  Please feel free to add any additional tips below.  Thanks for reading!

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