It’s the (digital) age-old question, as a business… how should you go about dealing with negative comments on social media?

Well, negative comments come in many shapes and forms. We are going to have a look over the different types of negative comments on social media you may receive, and how to deal with negative reviews on social media both professionally and gracefully.

Should I delete negative comments from social media?

If the comment is related to your business, product, or service, then no, absolutely not. The general rule is to never remove anything that is related to you or your company. If the comment is spam or is designed to spread hate and is unrelated to your company, only then should you go ahead and delete it.

If you delete negative feedback, reviews, and comments regarding your business, you’re going to anger the online user responsible for leaving the comment, and cause distrust amongst your followers. You’re not an ostrich, you’re a business, so don’t bury your head in the sand. If the negative feedback was deserved, take accountability. Furthermore, by hiding from negative feedback, you’re displaying immaturity and unprofessionalism which is damaging and will repel any potential customers you may have had.

In short, it’s a big fat no. So, what should you do about negative comments online?

How should I be responding to negative reviews on social media?

Negative reviews are really disheartening, especially if the comment is completely unfair. A negative comment may make you angry and upset, but it’s imperative that 1) you do not react emotionally and 2) you reply!

Another top tip to note is not to copy, paste and use a ‘negative comment response’ template, ever. Templates are impersonal, obvious, and robotic. Doing this shows the customer that you don’t care enough to tailor your own reply!

Stay neutral when responding, and demonstrate to your audience that you can see the bigger picture and take constructive criticism (even if it does not feel constructive) on the chin. By adopting a customer-centric, people-focused approach, you will come across as an authentic, honest, understanding, and professional company to your online audiences. People respect those who can own up to their mistakes, and customers appreciate being heard and understood.

Here’s our step-by-step guide of handling negative reviews on social media;

1. Firstly, establish what went wrong. Can you recall the interactions you had with this customer? Is there any data recorded detailing the customer touchpoints, such as email correspondence, order history, or CCTV? Have a look through everything you have documenting your b2c journey with the customer so you can establish more of a truth. If you don’t have any data, then speak to different employees who may be able to shed light on the situation at hand.

2. Secondly, show the customer that you acknowledge their issue, regardless of whether they’re reiterating a real event or spouting a fictitious tale. Empathise with their upset or frustration. Show them that you understand why they feel the way they do.

3. If you are in the wrong, explain why you fell short this time, apologise, and demonstrate your usual business process and procedures whilst addressing why you did not meet them on this occasion for your customer. Acknowledge your shortcomings and be the bigger person.

4. Again, if you are in the wrong, following your apology and explanation, offer a solution. Some sort of compensation (that doesn’t require them to spend further money with you as a one-off) goes a long way and 9 times out of 10 the customer will be grateful for this and accept your apology, meaning the situation is rectified.

5. If you’re not in the wrong, then firstly, demonstrate that you acknowledge their perspective as well as their feelings and frustrations.

6. Using any data or evidence you have from your interaction with the client, explain (neutrally) what happened from your point of view, and cover anything they may have misunderstood.

7. Explain your usual business procedures and processes also, so it’s clear what you offer expectation-wise from the offset, and use any evidence you have to back this up e.g. policy pages on your website.

8. If this resolves the situation online, great. You have shown potential customers that you can handle negative comments like the savvy, professional, and customer-focused business you are!

9. If the situation is not resolved, offer communication offline of which they can discuss further. Offer to ring the unhappy customer or meet them face to face. This way, you’re being even more professional by showing how dedicated you are to rectifying the situation and making your customers happy, and you’re also shielding the negotiation/discussion from prying eyes. Everything is also resolved much more quickly when people are not hidden behind a keyboard or a phone screen.

What is the difference between trolling and abuse, and negative reviews?

Negative reviews are those that document a customer experience that fell short of customer expectations e.g., slow delivery and service, an unfriendly or unhelpful employee, etc.

Trolling and abuse are not and should not be classed as negative reviews – trolling is literally what it says on the tin, and it is not related to your business or a customer’s experience at all.

How should I handle abuse and trolling on social media?

Unfortunately, some comments are nasty and unfair. If a comment contains offensive material or abuse, or it is negative and not related to your business (meaning there’s been no b2c transaction or interaction, or it is a personal attack), then it is up to you whether you delete it, but you should report it also.

If you do delete it, you can even leave your own comment or do a post on your social media accounts explaining how hateful comments that do not constitute as feedback will be reported or removed. You have every right to report abuse and hateful comments.

There are also options to filter or block comments on certain social media networks such as Facebook and Instagram.

Related Reading:

Knowing when to post on social media for small business

What is social listening?

How to manage a social media crisis

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