Maybe They Don’t Like You: Dealing with Negative Feedback
Say it’s not so. Someone just left a scathing review of your business on Yelp or an unflattering comment on Facebook. While everyone’s entitled to their opinion, negative feedback on social media is there for everyone to see. Should you delete it (assuming you can), fight fire with fire, grin and bear it, or hope no one sees it? Take a deep breath.
You will receive negative feedback. After all, some customers will have legitimate issues that they need help resolving. Plus, you’ll get your fair share of people who simply can’t be satisfied no matter what, and they’ll air their complaints with gusto. You’ll also get your share of misguided complaints from people who may have mistaken your business for another.
No matter how or why someone has complained, you’ll need to respond. Doing so shows both the complainer and anyone else who may stumble across the thread that you care and are willing to resolve the issue. In fact, this is an opportunity to shine!
Dealing with negative feedback requires a calm, well-thought-out approach. Ideally, you should create this approach in advance so that you can respond promptly and professionally from a strategic, rather than emotional, perspective. Use the tips below to plan your negative feedback approach.
Understand the different types of feedback. Negative feedback on social media tends to fall into the following categories:
- Spam – Is the message from a real customer with real concerns or is it a bogus message from a spambot? Signs it might be spam include links to irrelevant webpages, nonsensical language, inflammatory language, and messages that are clearly unrelated to your products and services.
- Angry / upset feedback – Users who leave angry feedback may have legitimate issues that need to be resolved. They are clearly upset. However, their anger level may cloud their judgment. They may also blow a simple problem out of proportion.
- Urgent feedback – Those with urgent feedback may be experiencing a problem right now or may be alerting you to a problem that needs your attention. For example, if someone leaves a message stating that she can’t buy a product from your website because it won’t process her credit card, that’s an urgent problem. Not only is her sale at stake, there could be a systemwide problem with your website.
- Constructive criticism – Constructive criticism is intended to be helpful. Those who leave this type of feedback aren’t mad but they see a problem that they believe can be addressed. Not only that, they offer ideas for doing so.
Respond according to feedback type. Each type of feedback should be addressed. Below are a few examples of how you might respond to different types of feedback:
- Spam – If a message is obviously spam, delete it and be done with it.
- Angry / upset feedback – You’ll need to use your best customer service skills here. Though the comment may look as though the customer has blown the issue out of proportion, keep in mind that the problem is very real, and very upsetting, to the individual. Start by reassuring the person that you understand their concern and apologize for any difficulties that they may have experienced. If the conversation looks as though it might escalate, suggest a phone call or some other less public communications method. Once the issue is resolved, you can update the post to thank the customer for the opportunity to resolve the problem.
- Urgent feedback – Urgent issues need a prompt response. Depending on the nature of the issue, you may need to get others involved. For example, you might need to call the credit card merchant to report an outage or have your IT team troubleshoot a problem with your website. Make sure to thank the customer for the heads up about the problem and let him or her know that you are working on it. Periodically return with status updates.
- Constructive criticism – There’s no rule that says you have to agree with constructive criticism or implement the user’s suggestions. However, look at the advice objectively and consider what’s been said. If it makes sense to implement the change or evaluate the problem in greater detail, by all means do so. Make sure to thank the user for offering this feedback. If you do implement the suggestions, update the thread accordingly.