How your business should deal with negative feedback on social media

How your business should deal with negative feedback on social media

If used correctly, social media can not only provide businesses with a fantastic (generally free) chance to market their product or services but also, just as importantly, allow them to engage with customers. However, as anyone with any experience on social media will testify, not all the interactions to be had are positive ones.

In this article, limited company formation specialists 1st Formations (who you will find on all major social media platforms) provide a roadmap for how your business should handle any negative feedback that you receive on social media. Let’s get started.

Make sure you see all comments

You can’t deal with negative feedback or comments about your business if you don’t see what’s being said. You need to be diligent in ensuring that you catch everything.

Whilst the platforms’ in-built alerts are relatively reliable, it’s still easy to miss important comments, or simply lose track of what’s being said. To ensure that you see everything, use your social media management system (if you’re not yet using one, you really should be) to track all the words and phrases connected to your brand, even if they’re not officially used by you.

This way, if everything has been set up correctly, you will be notified immediately whenever your name is mentioned. This will allow you to keep on top of any discussions that are happening.

Furthermore, you should also set up Google Alerts to cover the feedback that is being shared away from social media on forums and other web pages.

Deal with the feedback quickly

Your time is of course precious, and social media activity won’t always be at the top of your to-do list. However, when negative feedback does come through, whether this is a tweet or a comment on Instagram or YouTube, you must respond as soon as you can (within business hours) to prevent the issue from escalating.

If there is a specific issue, rather than a piece of fleeting feedback that you can address there and then, this does not mean that you need to fix the problem immediately. Request all the information that you need (if it’s an existing customer, we’re talking name, order reference, and contact information), and clearly state that you’re looking into the matter and will get back to them shortly.

Providing an exact timeframe in which you will be back in touch is a good idea, but make sure that the deadline you set yourself is realistic, as the customer chasing you down for an update could cause further damage.

Then, when you do get a chance, work with your team and the individuals involved to reach a satisfactory resolution. Hopefully, this isn’t a drawn-out process, but when it is a complicated matter, make sure you provide the individual with regular updates, being sure to thank them for their understanding.

Take it offline

The ideal scenario is to take the issue away from public view as soon as possible. At the same time as requesting the information you need to investigate any issue, explain to the individual that you will be in contact with them through email or if convenient, telephone.

This is a genuinely more efficient approach to resolving any issues, rather than the stagnated back and forth that social media provides, and makes sure that the situation isn’t played out in a public forum where reputational damage can be made.

This will not always be convenient for the person you are engaging with. They will generally understand that you will want to tackle the situation in private. When this occurs, simply explain how corresponding away from the social media platform will help resolve the issue quicker. This won’t always work but you must try.

Remain professional at all times

Ryanair is perhaps the well-known purveyor of the snarky social media response to less-than-happy customers. This approach works well for them because they’re a household name and it’s very much ‘on-brand’. However, this stance is probably not appropriate for you and your business.

When less than positive comments are made, you must remain professional. Under no circumstances should you partake in an online argument with anyone – even if what they say is wholly incorrect and paints your operation poorly.

Take on an apologetic tone, even if you are in the right. Thank them for the feedback, ask what a satisfactory resolution for them would be, and then do what you can, within your protocols (don’t deviate from these just because it’s on social media) to fix any issues that have arisen.

State your case, if a problem has occurred because the customer has misunderstood something or has not provided the correct information required for their order to be processed, explain this – but again, in a professional manner.

Know when enough is enough

When negative feedback oversteps the mark and turns into harassment, you should take necessary action. Certain behaviours do not become acceptable just because it’s aimed at a business account rather than a personal account.

If you are being targeted, you should publicly state your business’s policies regarding harassment. If the abuse continues, you should ignore the comments (admittedly this is easier said than done) and then consider muting or blocking the account in question.

If it continues, you should report the user to the social platform, and if the abuse is extreme, also to the police.

Try to stay calm

Anyone who has managed social media activity for business purposes will confirm just how easy it is to take negative feedback personally. Regardless of who is right and who is wrong, it is an upsetting experience. This feeling is magnified if the business that is being criticised is your own, as it does feel personal.

This is completely understandable. Nonetheless, this should not seep into how you deal with the feedback. If you are emotionally affected by what is being said, take the necessary mindful steps to calm and relax yourself, but do not allow this to cloud how the issue is dealt with.

As we stressed above, you must remain polite and professional. If you feel that you are unable to do this, move away from the situation for some time or see if there is someone else on your team who can work to resolve the problem accordingly.

Listen to the feedback

No business is perfect. Rather than baulk at the idea of negative feedback coming your way, always try to see these as an opportunity to fix issues and ultimately improve your business.

Once a specific issue has been resolved, do what you can to make sure that it doesn’t happen again. In customer-facing roles, it can be easy to lose empathy for the customer, and simply assume every problem is because of a misunderstanding or basic error on their part. It’s their problem, not yours. This is a big mistake.

Your business must have a joined-up approach. If you have a large team, when situations do occur, ensure that these are shared with all the appropriate people so that permanent fixes can be reached.

Remember, it’s a branding exercise

Every interaction you have online is a chance to demonstrate to customers and potential customers just how great your brand is, and how much you appreciate your customers.

When a piece of customer feedback has led to an update in how your service is delivered, shout about this. Publicly thank the customer in question, send them a gift, and ask other customers for their feedback and improvement suggestions.

One of the major benefits of using social media for business is that it allows you to project your brand’s personality. This is done through the tone of voice that you use, the content you share, and more so than anything – the interactions that you have with people.

Whilst negative feedback might not be at the top of your list when it comes to the type of engagement you have, it does provide you with the perfect opportunity to change someone’s impression of you. When handled correctly, even the most scathing reviews can be used to your business’s advantage.

So, there you have it 

That’s how your business should deal with negative feedback on social media.

Whilst you’ll never be able to stop these comments coming in (without ceasing all social media activity, which is not advisable for a small business), follow the advice covered in this article to ensure feedback is dealt with in a way that protects your business’s reputation and even enhances it. Thanks for reading.

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