How to tackle negative online comments

Does anyone else find there are certain social media platforms where people love to vent?

Often undertaking a targeted social media campaign on the likes of Facebook and Instagram can result in a litany of abuse from randomers!

Don’t ignore negative comments – you are only going to add fuel to their fire!

The keyboard warriors that take to Google Reviews and Glassdoor to vent their frustrations are even more frustrating for us as we can’t identify who these people are, or what their grievance is and therefore we are unable to assist them by addressing their issue and developing a suitable reply and we can’t attempt to resolve their problem.

Okay, quite often when it comes to the likes of Glassdoor or Google Reviews we can sometimes identify them as a disgruntled former employee who has taken to the keyboard to slate us. Believe me, there needs to be a very good and valid reason for anyone to be dismissed. These are the easier ones to reply to as we understand they are just venting.

However, how do you deal with the unavoidable negative comments? Rather than flying in with all guns blazing hurling similar insults, there are some simple steps to take as follows:

Don’t ignore negative comments – you are only going to add fuel to their fire! Actually, don’t ignore any comments! Use them as a way to build your brand. Sometimes negativity can be hard to deal with but don’t take it personally. They don’t know you as a person or as the social media manager…they are taking a pop at the company, not at you!

Apologize sincerely – we all know saying sorry is the hardest thing to do (cue some soppy love song!). But remember that old adage “The customer is always right.” Even if you think they are wrong! But we all know saying sorry is the first step to resolving anything (even if it is through gritted teeth!). Just make the apology sound sincere!

Don’t make false promises  – don’t promise something you can’t deliver on, especially if it is outside your normal practice. Always analyse the issue first, develop a solution and then explain how you can fix the situation.

Be polite – it’s not always easy to keep calm but you do have to be polite! And if someone swears at you, don’t be tempted to swear back! You might as well throw a gallon of diesel onto the fire if you are going to swear! Although with current fuel prices, you won’t be wasting any diesel! Hide your real emotions!

Take it out of the spotlight – try and take the conversation offline. Ask the person to email you by giving them your direct email address. This will undoubtedly soften them as you are giving them your personal address which means you are going to deal with them personally.

Personalise your message – forget the automated replies. They don’t want to talk to a bot.  Reply to customers personally.

Reply instantly – even if it is just to say you will look into the matter and revert in due course…just make sure you do it within 2 hours.

Explain yourself – or what caused the issue at least and what is being done to resolve it. Show you are making an effort!

Learn, learn, learn from your mistakes – we all make them! Read all the comments to figure out what you are doing wrong, especially if there is an issue that keeps repeating itself.

Remember, everyone gets negative comments, even the largest international multinationals…think about it though, they probably get the most amount of abuse online than any of us! But don’t ignore it…it won’t go away, in fact, it will just make it harder to deal with when you eventually have to address an issue.

The numbers speak for themselves.

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