At some point in every business’ life, one or more people will have something unflattering to say and they’ll want to share it with as many people as possible. When you see negative comments on social media, your natural response may be to defend yourself from an unfair attack. However, there’s a better way to handle the situation that improves your brand image and helps you do better in the future.
Reviews.org surveyed around 1,000 Americans over 18 years old. Researchers found about 50% of people wake up and check their social media within ten minutes. People take to the platforms to share news, find entertainment and complain about companies. While there is an old saying that no press is bad press, the truth is a bit more complicated.
Should You Respond to Negative Comments on Social Media?
Some experts say to never respond to negative comments on social media. You just give them attention and power. Others say to always respond and show other potential customers you’re serious about making things right.
What works best for you likely ties into your overall brand image. If you pride yourself on being transparent and customer-oriented, you’ll likely respond to any comment. If your focus is more on price or value, then it may not seem as urgent.
If you do decide to respond to negative comments on social media, make sure you follow the tips below to handle different scenarios. Sometimes engaging makes things worse, but hopefully it is an opportunity to improve the relationship with your dissatisfied customer.
A Script to Handle Different Types of Negative Comments on Social Media
You sit staring at a couple of negative comments on social media and try to figure out how to respond. Here are some of the most common examples and how you can reply.
1. The Quality of the Product Is Poor
Perhaps you pride yourself on a high quality product and seeing negative comments on social media saying something different hurts. However, just because most of your products are excellent doesn’t mean one didn’t slip through the cracks or quality checks.
Approximately 90% of consumers say customer service is the reason they feel brand loyalty toward a particular company. If you can show you’re concerned and want to give better service, you’ll impress not only the complaining customer but others who see your response.
Write something like, “We pride ourselves on quality, and we’re so sorry you received something you aren’t happy with. Please contact us at 1-800-toll free so we can resolve this for you immediately.”
Remain professional and do your best to take the conversation off social media to avoid an escalation.
2. Worst Customer Service Ever
You open up your Facebook page to reviews and get some negative comments on social media like the one above. How do you respond to such an accusation when you don’t even know what happened? Maybe the person did receive inferior service, but without specifics, it’s hard to know how to fix the problem.
Start by apologizing and then ask them to contact you with details so you can figure out what went wrong. You may never hear from the person, but at least other potential leads will see you are willing to own up to mistakes and try to fix them.
If the customer does contact you, listen to what they say. They may have a valid point and give you some ideas of how to further improve the customer experience.
3. The Mail Carrier Stuffed the Box in My Mailbox and I Can’t Get it Out
While you have little control over what happens to a package once it leaves your possession, some customers will blame you for something their mail carrier does or if they didn’t try the item for sixty days and then realized they ordered the wrong model.
In the Statista Global Consumer Survey of the United States, 26% of consumers indicated they were most likely to return clothing, with shoes, electronics and bags right behind.
How do you handle a situation that goes outside your policies and wasn’t your fault? You should have a plan in place beforehand, because you’ll want to be consistent in how you respond. Do you bend over backwards or do you simply reiterate your policy? Are there ever exceptions?
For example, if someone asks for a refund outside a 45-day refund window because they were caring for a dying parent, do you make an exception? There isn’t a right or wrong answer, but a little empathy toward other people and kind words go a long way.
“Please contact our customer service department at this toll-free number so we can work with you on a solution.”
“We are sorry to hear about your loss. Unfortunately, our return policy is firm, but we will work with you on an exchange if you phone us.”
Whatever your policy might be, it’s okay to sometimes say no. Some requests are unreasonable and other customers will recognize that in the exchange.
4. This Brand Is a Joke
Social media is notorious for bringing out people filled with hate and no shortage of snarky comments. You can either ignore this type of comment or respond good naturedly.
For example, you might say, “We strive to entertain. Thanks for noticing!”
Or, you can take a different approach and ask for more details, but you might get more than you bargained for.
Some brands choose to delete comments like the one above because they aren’t helpful and there isn’t anything you can do to fix the problem.
If you do choose to respond to negative comments on social media, make sure you remain professional. Read your response and even get feedback from a friend or colleague to ensure you’re not letting your emotions get in the way. Remember more than just the irate customer is watching. All your potential customers also want to see how you handle the situation.
About The Author
Eleanor Hecks is the Editor-in-Chief of Designerly Magazine, an online publication dedicated to providing in-depth content from the design and marketing industries. When she's not designing or writing code, you can find her re-reading the Harry Potter series, burning calories at a local Zumba class, or hanging out with her dogs, Bear and Lucy.