Social Engagement Series: How to Positively Handle the Negative

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You have worked hard to create engaging material on your social media platforms and results are rolling in; that’s great! Remember, though, oftentimes with the positive comes a little negative. With social media, business pages need to know how to promptly and respectfully respond to negative feedback and reviews.

Social media has become a casual form of communication, where people tend to say things that they may not be willing to say in person. It’s important to remember that even if your fans ditch proper social etiquette, it doesn’t mean your business should. Here are some ideas on how to professionally handle situations when someone has a poor experience and lets you – and your audience – know on one of your business’s social pages.

Close-up image of a person leaving a one-star review on their tablet.

Listen First, Then Understand

People often take to social media with their anger when they feel no one is listening. Before jumping the gun and responding, listen to ALL of their frustrations. An automated, robotic-sounding reply will only fuel the fire, so be sure to respond to their unique situation. After you’ve listened to their concerns, be sure to:

Personalize Your Response

Addressing the person by name and restating their concern in your reply can help bring down the heat of anger. Because you are connecting with them on a more personal level, they are more likely to feel that you have listened and understood their individual situation, and genuinely want to help solve their problem.

Show Empathy

Look at the situation from their perspective and take the time to understand what exactly is causing frustration. Next, create and explain a step-by-step game plan to rectify the situation. This gives the consumer a chance to calm down, and you have an opportunity to gain their trust in the process.

Keep Track of Any and All Customer Complaints

Be sure to keep track and check those records before responding to examine the details of the customer and see if this is a recurring issue. If you can avoid asking repeat questions that may already have answers, you will save time and frustration.

Social network apps on cellphone.

Don’t Make Them Wait Around

If you want to make someone on social media angrier, make them wait. If it’s an issue that takes some looking into, while this is going on you should respond in a timely manner (within an hour or two if possible), to reassure them that they have been heard and that you are actively working to solve the issue.

Validate Their Concerns

The old saying “the customer is always right” does not always ring true, but validating their complaints may help to move past the issue and find a solution. Apologize for their frustrations, don’t respond defensively, and avoid making excuses for the situation. Let your customer know that you are personally addressing the manner and seeking out a solution.

Check Back

Be sure to follow up with previously frustrated consumers, and don’t assume that you resolved their problem; take the extra step to ensure that they are now satisfied customers. For example, if you offered instructions on how to fix an issue, contact the customer when a sufficient amount of time has passed (usually a couple of days) and see how things are going. By following up you are showing all customers, even the dissatisfied ones, that you value their feedback and care that they were able to find a solution.

Person holding a smart phone showing an instant messaging conversation between them and a customer service representative.

Things To Remember

While going through this process, it’s important that you note the following in order to handle the feedback positively:

  • Never delete a comment from a customer on social media; their feedback will help grow your business, and other fans can see how well you address and handle complaints.
  • Stay positive and don’t take the complaints personally – they are mad at a situation, not you as an individual, and we can all relate to being frustrated with a product or service.
  • Some complaints are best handled privately. If your conversation starts to spiral, it is totally acceptable to let them know you have sent them a private message. If things still aren’t going well, see if they’d be open to a phone call.
  • You won’t always be able to make every customer happy, but you can handle the situation with the respect and professionalism that comes from proper social etiquette.
  • Remember that word of mouth is at its peak of power and one person can quickly reach hundreds or thousands when it comes to social media, so make sure your business is represented properly with every interaction.

With a team of social media experts, we can successfully help address and handle these kinds of situations on all of your different platforms. Contact us to discuss how we can take the stress of dealing with negative feedback off your hands, or if you’d like to enhance your social media marketing strategy.