Handle Your Haters: Responding to Negative Comments on Social Media
“We never receive negative comments – customers only comment when they are happy!” – said no business owner ever. The reality is, negative comments on social media are bound to happen, but how you respond and take action is in your control. So, let’s talk about the best ways to handle your “haters” (or those who just may be having a bad day):
1. The “It Goes Without Saying” Stuff
We know you’re smarter than the average bear, so let’s quickly review the obvious points:
– Don’t rush into a response and risk coming across as defensive or hostile. The only thing worse than a bad comment is a bad response.
– Determine if this is a spam or accidental comment. Is this clearly someone who has never stepped foot inside your business door? Did they mix you up with another company with a similar name? Is their comment completely incoherent? If so, it may be best to delete or hide the comment.
– Do your research. What are the concerns of the customer? Is this a client of your business? Is your team aware of their experience or any reason why they may have commented negatively? Gather as much information as possible before responding.
2. To Delete or Not to Delete
It’s easy to delete a comment and move on, but while it seems counterintuitive, negative comments can help you connect better with customers and showcase your company’s authenticity. If you publicly respond with a solution and express genuine interest in helping your customers, it bodes well for your brand and helps win over the upset customer. The key is ensuring it’s done in a timely manner – and we’re talking minutes. A recent study showed that when an airline responded to a customer’s negative tweet in less than 5 minutes, the customer was willing to pay $20 more for a future ticket with that airline.
3. Craft Your Response in 6 Simple Steps
Now that we’ve covered the basics, here’s an implementable process for responding:
1) Use their name (or IG handle). Addressing someone by name (assuming legally allowable – check with your attorney depending on your industry!) instantly creates a personalized experience. Dale Carnegie said it best, “A person’s name is to him or her the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” (“Hi Sandy, thank you for taking the time to comment.”).
2) Address the concern, while respecting their privacy. Reiterating the issue will make your customer feel heard, but it’s best to keep it short and sweet, and, again, always take extra precautions to protect HIPAA/HITECH laws if you are a medical practice.
3) Apologize and show gratitude. Kill them with kindness – simple enough!
4) Be transparent and offer solutions when appropriate. Is your customer’s concern valid? Is this a reoccurring issue for your business? Let them know you’re on it. (“We’ve experienced unusually high call volume since re-opening and are working hard to ensure every call is answered. Our team will contact you right away.”)
5) Direct the conversation to a private format. Once you respond publicly, handle the issue behind-the-scenes. (“Can you send us a DM with your contact info and we will be in touch with 1 business day? Thank you!”)