7 Ways to Deal With Negative Online Feedback

Andrea Palmer

Published Mon 16 Jun by Andrea Palmer

This article shows you how to can turn negative online feedback from customers into an opportunity to impress

In this article, I’m going to help you see negative feedback / down and dirty complaints in a new light. See them as an opportunity to act well and do right by your public.

The long-term benefits will be well worth it.

Business is booming online. Social media is set to become even more popular for businesses of all sizes in 2014. It’s a great platform for you and your clients to experience a meaningful two-way relationship.

But social media can also have its pitfalls. You know the saying ‘Bad news travels fast’? Well, it travels even faster in social-media-land.

It’s great that your customers can talk to you, and also interact with each other. It creates a sense of community. Social media is a whole lot of free word of mouth advertising.

But what if someone posts a gripe? It goes out to your public whether you like it or not. You might be tempted to monitor posts and remove negative ones at the earliest opportunity. Don’t go there!

Disgruntled customers will become even more so if they see their post has been removed or ignored. Instead of being silenced, they’re likely to just shout even louder. Instead of taking negative feedback personally, we’re going to show you how you can turn it around.

1. Feel the Noise... Keep Your Poise

Instead of trying to silence disgruntled customers, take the time to take it in. Listen to what they’ve got to say. Quieten your instincts to rant back.

2. Silence of the Trolls

Trolling / spamming is something that can happen to any business online. Sometimes competitors are responsible. They may do it to goad you into responding angrily and damaging your reputation. In cases like these, it’s best to maintain a dignified silence.

3. Keep Calm... and Say Sorry

When it’s a case of an individual making a genuine complaint, start as you mean to go on. Treat them as an individual and give them some focused attention. Respond promptly. Don’t give it time to stew amongst your online audience. Publicly thank the complainee for their feedback (you may have to do deep breaths and count to ten... or one hundred if it helps). Take the plunge: say you’re sorry to hear they are not happy with your product or service and assure them you are working on a resolution.

4. Take This One Outside... and Offline

Once you have responded to their negative feedback publicly, take the issue offline. Deal with the customer one to one via email. Try to designate a member of staff who will be that person’s point of contact until the issue is resolved to their satisfaction. Keep them informed about steps you’re taking to resolve it. Once this is done, go online again and highlight the positive outcome for all to see.

5. De-escalate and Placate

Curb their anger by responding positively and in a genuine manner (people really do know if you’re just fobbing them off). A negative and defensive response may escalate the customer’s dissatisfaction, which will damage your wider reputation. Ask them to voice their expectations: ‘How would you like to see the situation resolved?’

6. Listen and Learn

The time and energy you have invested in dealing with a complaint will be wasted if you don’t learn from the experience. Keep a log of complaints / negative feedback to see if there is an emerging pattern. Alter your product or service accordingly. Try to see negative feedback as a catalyst.

In its best light, it’s free market research. It can help your business effect positive changes and monitor how well you are doing. It identifies areas for improvement.

None of us are perfect, but a careful and intelligent response to feedback can help you get well on the way.

7. The Aggressor Turns Ally

If you play your hand skilfully and with integrity, you can turn the situation around and get the complainee on your side. If they feel they have been dealt with fairly and with genuine care, they may agree to submit a testimonial to that effect. At the very least they may post something positive on your social media profiles.

And think how much better you will feel that you have dealt with it in a mature and professional way. 

To Sum Up...

If something is worth doing, it’s worth doing well.

I’ve shown you how you can view negative feedback as an opportunity to make key changes and evolve your customer service reputation and skill. So don’t be tempted to fight back or post negative responses to customer complaints. It will only hurt you and your business in the end.

How have you dealt with negative feedback? Tell us about it in the comments section below!

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