” … for there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” ~ Hamlet quote (Act II, Sc. II)
How do you handle negative comments?
We get asked this question all the time, and it is a valid question. But businesses are asking the wrong question. They should be asking, “How do you handle customer feedback?”
Far too many brands ignore positive comments from a customer who took the time to let them know how happy they are with their product or service. An experienced community manager knows there is value and opportunity in both positive and negative comments. How you manage comments matters, and in the long run it pays to take the time to respond thoughtfully.
Sometimes you cannot avoid a bad review or negative comment. It’s difficult to please everyone. People – and companies – make mistakes. But the chance of customer complaints should not be a deterrent to using social media for your business. In fact, this should be an incentive! Chances are your customers are already talking about you on social media, and by being active on social media you have the chance to be part of the conversation and address the issue at hand.
Respond On Social Media
With the level of accessibility that social media now provides, it’s easier than ever for customers to make a complaint in the heat of the moment, right from their smartphone. If an angry customer reaches out to you through a tweet or Facebook comment, the whole world can see the post. However, everyone can also see how you handle the situation – and they are paying attention to the way you respond. Of course, the first step is ensuring the complaint is coming from an actual customer and it’s not spam. If so, here are some ways to address the issue:
- View it as an opportunity. These public objections can be transformed into a marketing opportunity, if handled correctly. People pay attention to negative posts; and when dealt with appropriately, these comments offer your company the chance to gain you not one loyal customer, but many.
- Reply through the same channel. If a customer complains over Twitter, reply to the tweet. Your public apology will be saved in the chain for followers to see. The same method applies to Facebook – reply to customer wall posts or comments.
- Follow up. Offer the customer the opportunity to connect offline – whether through a call center or in store. And don’t be afraid to ask for feedback. Was the issue resolved to their liking? Would they come back again in the future? If not, what else can be done to change their mind?
How to Deal with Negative Comments
A recent article in the Globe and Mail reads, “For every customer who complains, there are many more equally disappointed [customers] who don’t bother to communicate that to you. So each complaint should be considered even more important, because the problem is likely more widespread than a single occurrence.”
Not to mention, customers whose complaints are handled well can end up being even more loyal to your business than those whom experienced a smooth transaction the first time around. We tend to remember those times when something went wrong better than those that let us carry on with our day, unaffected. So how do you handle these negative comments?
- Be humble and understanding. Show the customer that you understand he or she is disappointed and has been inconvenienced.
- Recognize what went wrong. Sometimes, a simple apology can go a long way.
- Overcompensate. Offer a free add-on, gift card or discount in exchange for the trouble.
- Welcome the customer back. Telling a once disgruntled customer you hope to see them again will make them feel appreciated and more likely to return for service in the future.
Some angry customers may be passed the point of pleasing – and if that’s the case, there may not be a whole lot you can do to change their mind. But most people appreciate simply receiving acknowledgement of their complaint. A short tweet can go a long way. Try it out and see for yourself.
Editor’s Note: This blog was originally published in January 2013 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.