Handling Negative Social Media Responses… like a Boss

Handling Negative Social Media Responses… like a Boss

May 21, 2013 — 4 min read

“Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning,” -Bill Gates

Remember the old suggestion box? It was a great way for people to anonymously post ideas and complaints and for management to really gauge the mood of their clients. Social media has become our modern-day suggestion box, although most companies are too scared to lift the lid or deal with what’s inside. Don’t avoid social media because you are afraid that people will write bad comments about you. Instead, take some sage advice from social media Jedi, David Shephard: “There is a conversation going on out there about you whether you are participating in it or not. If you’re not going to be part of that conversation, then you can bet your competitors will be.”

That’s not to say that there aren’t dangers in jumping into the social media pool. While the pitfalls of the suggestion box were candy wrappers and gum, trolls and dissatisfied customers do plague social media sites that no longer enjoy the anonymity of the suggestion box. Learn how to correctly navigate the pitfalls and social media will become one of your most prized possessions. Companies that know how to use these modern day suggestion boxes properly are able to turn bad comments into amazing service opportunities.

Feedback doesn’t mean failure

People don’t waste time on hopeless cases, so take their feedback as a sign that they see potential in you. Don’t miss out on a great opportunity because you don’t want to get negative comments on your social media sites. Responding to negative feedback is a great way to turn a disgruntled client into a loyal fan. It’s a rare opportunity and those who deal with negative feedback effectively are likely to improve their relationship with their clients exponentially.

Turn unhappy clients into raving fans

A Retail Consumer Report showed that 68% of customers that posted negative comments on sites received a response. Those responses encouraged 18% to become loyal clients who shopped at the store again, 33% posted a positive comment explaining how their problem had been solved and 34% deleted their negative comments. Still think negative comments are damaging?

Timing is everything

The key to successfully dealing with negative comments it to respond as quickly as possible. Nothing beats a bad experience like excellent service. Responding quickly to negative posts reflects well on your company. Either offer a solution or direct the customer to a personal email or number so that they can be helped immediately. Don’t refer them to your help line or generic help desk; this is the electronic equivalent of poking a tiger.

Poking the tiger

While it used to be that an unhappy client would tell five of their friends about your shoddy service, social media means that your clients can now tell thousands of their friends, who may possibly tell thousands of their friends. Don’t ignore negative feedback and don’t delete it either. Avoid impersonal, hollow apologies and never, ever offer a generic help line or email address as a solution. If you do want to direct them elsewhere, offer a personal email address option or a personal phone number.

Take it personally

Be human. This seems like a reasonable enough request; what we mean by it is that this is no place for canned responses. Take the time to write a personal response that reflects the respect and time that any unhappy customer deserves. Don’t be afraid to use humor to diffuse a potentially explosive situation—it’s a great opportunity to show that you take a personal interest in your clients.

The very point of social media is to build a relationship with your clientele. If you only aim to use social media as a way to distribute your advertising and content, then perhaps its best to turn your comments off. However, you will be missing out on a singular opportunity to make friends and influence people. Engaging with your audience means you join the conversation that is already happening out there. It means that you can right any wrongs your company may have caused and you get a rare and precious opportunity to turn an unhappy client that would otherwise have never supported your brand again into a loyal fan who will rave about you on their own social media networks.

Nikki Fotheringham

— Content Marketing Specialist

A Toronto blogger specializing in green building technologies, renewable energy and all things green. I have traveled the globe, swum with sharks and been bitten by a lion (fact). I live with my husband, Ian and a very bad dog.