Forbes Communications Council members discuss positive ways for businesses to address negative feedback on social media.
PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE INDIVIDUAL MEMBERS.
Social media is an invaluable tool to help businesses connect with consumers. When customers offer negative feedback online, however, it also has the capacity to impact a company’s reputation in significant ways.
Addressing public criticism on social media requires a careful touch. The results of your company approaching the issue in the wrong way can be shared widely, which could lead to a backlash from your customer base. It helps to be aware of both the dangers and the potential benefits before you engage with consumers regarding comments they’ve posted online.
Here, 10 members of Forbes Communications Council look at the best ways for businesses to deal with negative social media feedback.
1. Don’t Divert Blame
Always take accountability, even if you disagree with the author of the review. Take negative feedback on the chin, respond respectfully, and move on. Your goal is to move the complaint into the private sphere and de-escalate the situation so that it’s no longer in public view. Encourage them to email you or to call you if they want to discuss the matter further. – Amine Rahal, Regal Assets
2. Be Respectful
Respect is key! Always remember that the way in which you communicate is a direct reflection of your brand. It is possible to be kind, stern, and respectful all at the same time in your responses. Where possible, take lengthier discussions offline and ask to speak via phone. Always keep in mind that providing excellent customer service centered around respect is essential. – Callie Johnson, PhD, Girl Scouts of Western New York
3. Don’t Get Defensive
Acknowledge the comment and spend time processing what the other person has to say. When you do respond, list the ways you’re addressing the issue. If the topic is sensitive or controversial, provide your contact info and ask them to contact you directly. Opening up a dialogue goes a long way. – Anusha Shankar, The Spur Group
4. Show That You’re Taking It Seriously
Social media matters—this is the most important thing to remember. All comments on social media, regardless of how negative or outlandish, must be taken seriously. All responses should be carefully crafted to convey a sense of understanding as to why the comments were made. Write a response that indicates the company takes all comments seriously. Be conciliatory, but don’t commit to changes. – Brittain Ladd, PULSE Integration
5. Make Sure The Customer Feels Heard
When responding to criticism on social media, it’s important to ensure that the customer feels legitimately heard. Acknowledge their frustrations, own up to the feedback they’ve shared, and encourage them to direct message you to make things right. You may not have a perfect answer, but making a meaningful effort goes a long way with both that individual and the many others who are reading your public interaction. – Lynn Kier, Diebold Nixdorf
6. Respond As Quickly As You Can
Respond to the comment or review as quickly as you can. A speedy response signals to both the poster as well as others who are reading the negative perspective that you care. It also allows you to shape the conversation before others potentially chime in and turn one post into a thread of negativity. – Roshni Wijayasinha, Foxquilt
7. Craft A Personalized Message
Negative feedback provides businesses with a great opportunity. Instead of sending a scripted response, take the time to craft a personalized message that helps your customer overcome the issue. Sure, not all outcomes will end positively, but this shows prospective customers that you are willing to help and are active in dealing with any issues that occur. – Liam Quinn, Reach Interactive
8. Respond With A Solution Right Away
Empowering your social team to resolve customer complaints at first communication is important in customer resolution. Being able to post that resolution or a clear path to resolution in your first response to a negative review will help make things right with your customer. It will also signal to future readers that you’re a responsive business that will take care of them if the need arises. – Sarah Little, StorageMart
9. Be Thankful For Feedback
Negative feedback, when grounded in facts and focused on revealing real mistakes, is a blessing because it gives us an opportunity to learn and to improve our product or service. That is why we need to be thankful for any such feedback, be brave enough to acknowledge our mistakes, and show how we will fix them. Then, we have the chance to turn it into a positive perception. – Svetlana Stavreva, IBM
10. Beware The Streisand Effect
Beware the Streisand effect: While it can be effective to address negative feedback publicly, you always run the risk of adding fuel to the fire and augmenting awareness of the negative info. The best strategy starts with honesty and transparency. If you aren’t comfortable being fairly up front in your public response, then you probably should keep the response private. – Tom Wozniak, OPTIZMO Technologies, LLC
By the Forbes Expert Panel®