A few years ago, if someone was dissatisfied with the service they received from a business, they might telephone or email to voice their concern, or tell a couple of friends. Now the first port of call is to get on social media and tell the world how badly they were treated. Most people recognise when someone is just having a rant and they scroll past without giving it much thought, but for a business owner who has put their heart and soul into their building their client base, these negative comments can really hurt. A poor comment or review not only makes you feel terrible, it can affect future sales, and in some cases bring you a lot of unwanted attention, especially if the comment goes viral.
Constructive and negative feedback is all part of doing business, and can usually be resolved easily, and even strengthen your relationship with the customer who is having the issue. The key is how you respond to the comments.
Follow these tips to ensure you turn negative comments into a positive experience.
Start by reading the message over a few times to understand the customer’s issue. Take a step back for a minute and think about what they are saying. Never rush your reply, as you run the risk of reacting out of anger or panic.
Take a screenshot the complaint for your records. This could help other staff members who may come into contact with the customer. It is also good to keep a record of the original post, as the customer can delete it at any time.
Don’t delete the comment, especially if it’s genuine feedback or concern. Too often businesses delete negative comments from their page which can spiral into a much larger problem if the customer does not feel heard or respected. They may push back and vent their anger to friends and family, or post publically on their own page to make their displeasure known. The last thing you want is a full scale attack on your business page.
Always make sure your staff know the policies and procedures around how to respond to customer complaints and ensure they strictly adhere to them.
There may be times that you need to delete comments, especially if there is explicit language or it is outright trolling. Usually a troll wouldn’t have experienced your business; they are just out to cause trouble and will not be expecting a response.
Once you have assessed the issue in a calm, professional way, respond to the customer. Make sure you respond as soon as possible. Ensure that your response shows the customer has been heard and then offer a solution to the situation. You should never delete your response, so make sure it is genuine and represents the ideals of your business. Keep in mind that prospective customers may also see your response and judge how you handle critics.
Below is a template of how to formulate a response to a negative comment.
A customer, Mr Black, leaves this response:
We ate at your restaurant on Saturday and it was crap, the pasta was gluggy and the service was terrible, won’t be eating there again!
A good response might be:
Hi Mr Black, we are so sorry to hear you were not happy with your experience at our restaurant. We take pride in our food and service, and would love for you to contact us so we can offer a suitable resolution. Thank you for your feedback.
Another customer, Sally:
My hair is friggen yellow! So disappointed, you post great pics on Instagram but clearly don’t know what you are doing.
Hi Sally, we are so sorry to hear that you are not happy with your hair after your appointment. Please contact us as soon as you can so that we can rectify the situation and ensure you are happy with the result.
5 times out of 10 the disgruntled customer won’t follow up. They have made up their mind that they don’t want to set foot on the premises again, but by responding with an offer to discuss their concerns, you will put prospective customer’s minds at ease. Make sure you are transparent and sympathetic when responding and don’t offer something you can’t deliver. If someone leaves a negative comment in the review section, ask family, friends or customers that you know well to write their own positive reviews so that the negative one is not the first thing someone sees when they come to your page.
If the customer does reach out to you to rectify the situation, it is in your best interest to do so. When businesses ask a customer to email them and then don’t respond, it leads to the customer revisiting the original post to say that they never received a response, letting other customers know that you did not follow through with your promise.
The main thing to remember is to keep your cool and don’t go on the defensive, which is easy to do when someone is running your business down. Make sure you respond professionally as the best outcome is a quick and painless solution to the issue.
If in doubt ask yourself how you would want to be treated if you were the customer. You can also ask a colleague or friend to check your response before you post it. Sometimes an outside opinion can give you another perspective.
Social media is a great way to grow your business and to ultimately increase profits, but it can also be an outlet for people to make their complaints public. When comments are unreasonable, or unnecessarily harsh, it reflects poorly on the person writing the post. Responding in an empathetic and professional manner will endear you and your business to your current and potential new customers. Plus, if the feedback is a genuine concern then you can use the comments to improve your business practises. Welcome both good and critical feedback from your customers, and turn any Facebook comment into an opportunity to show off your business in a positive way.