• Entrepreneurship

5 Tips for Responding to Negativity Online

Lauren Marinigh | September 11, 2015

In this day and age, technology clearly has a huge impact on how we do business. In fact, 90% of consumers say that their buying decisions are based on online reviews. Customer service is clearly at the forefront and people don’t just expect to receive great customer service, they demand it. With the internet taking this world by storm, there are now so many outlets for customers to vent about their negative (and positive) experiences.

So what should your business do when you receive a negative comment or review online? Here are some tips to help you turn a negative experience into a positive one.

1) Deleting or ignoring it is not an option

Don’t get scared of a negative comment and delete or ignore it, show your customers that you are the bigger person and that you care about what they have to say, even if it is negative. The last thing you want is to lose a valuable customer, or to leave them bitter so they spread the word to their friends. News of a negative experience can reach more than twice as many ears as praise for good customer experience does.

Remember that consumers want to know that you care about what they have to say—whether positive or negative. By ignoring the situation, you do the exact opposite. No matter how bad an experience may have been there is always a way to turn around the problem and leave the customer feeling heard and cared for. Show that you have heard the complaint and tell the person what you are going to do to address the situation.

2) Make sure you have the facts straight

It’s important to get your facts straight before you address any negative complaint online. Try to find out what could have happened to make the customer upset so you can better address the situation. This may mean that you need to go talk to an employee that was helping them, or ask the customer directly to give more details. You want to be able to respond to the consumer with the best possible solution, so it’s best to get a good grasp on the problem.

Keep in mind that although complaints aren’t necessarily wanted, they can help you improve and make your business even better! With every complaint, try to come down to the root of the situation to help you better resolve the issue in the long run. For example: If the complaint is about a long wait time trying to get a hold of someone on the phone, maybe you should look at how to improve that going forward.

3) Time is critical—think fast

Know that time is critical. When a customer is angry, making them wait for days before you respond to their complaint isn’t going to help the situation. Try to address each situation as soon as it happens. This shows the customer that you’re there to help and care about resolving the situation for them. One of the biggest mistakes a company can make is to spend so much time crafting the perfect response that the angry customer just thinks they are being ignored.

Have a plan in place for addressing situations like this, and put these incidents as top priority when and if they come in. Often when people are upset or angry they run to the easiest platform to address their concern, which is now often the internet. The longer you wait to respond, the bigger the chance they are running around spreading the word about their negative experience. Don’t leave them hanging when they reach out to you—the person will notice!

4) Keep it public and be open

When possible, keep your response open to the public so other customers can see. You never know when someone else may have the same problem, or question and if they turn to Google or your social media to find the answer, it’s always helpful when the answer is already there. Nobody wants to receive that template message from a company saying “Please direct message us” or “Please give us a call.”

If you can, address the situation right then and there, and give the person the option of calling or emailing you to discuss further if need be. There’s nothing worse than visiting a company Facebook page and seeing a bunch of comments/reviews that look like they’ve been ignored but in reality have actually been resolved. One exception to this is when the customer may feel more comfortable talking about the situation in private.

5) Be human

You are a human behind that computer screen, and don’t be afraid to show it. Even though you may be representing a brand, you’re still human. It’s okay to humanize your brand when speaking to your consumer, and in fact, it will help your case. Put yourself in the customers shoes, even if you may think they are complaining about something ridiculous or wrong, just try to imagine how they would feel. Use that to guide how you would respond to them.

Show the person that you care about what they have to say, and that you are human—and humans make mistakes. Customers will appreciate you much more when they don’t feel like they’re talking to a robot.

Last but not least, it’s important to remember that some people you can’t make happy. Try your best, show that you care, and if you feel like you’ve done all you can do to make the person happy, remember that there is only so much to do. Research by Help Scout states that it sometimes takes up to 12 positive experiences to make up for one bad one—so use the complaint as a way to drive improvement and deliver excellence going forward.

Written By: Lauren Marinigh, Social Media & Content Creation Coordinator, Futurpreneur Canada