How to Handle Negative Online Complaints
Conventional wisdom says when you manage an online social media marketing presence for a business, you should be quick to respond to complaints such as posts on Facebook, negative tweets, and unfavorable reviews on review sites. Generally speaking, this is good advice. Daily, I see comments that go unaddressed for days, weeks, and even months. (Of course, this doesn’t happen for my clients, but if you’re not one of them, I don’t want this for you, either!) As a general rule, make a point to answer any post, positive or negative, on the same business day, or at least within 24 hours. This includes weekends and holidays.
Before I delve into why I entitled this post as I did, a few general points on responding to posts online:
On review sites, where possible and appropriate, refer to your business by name. This is good for search purposes and keeps your name top-of-mind. Use positive words to reiterate customer experiences, and thank them for their time.
When people have a really good or bad experience, they won’t hesitate to mention the names of involved parties. In the case of the good, refer specifically to the services and person mentioned in the review; it shows personalization. And remember, each review response should be unique.
On Facebook or Google Plus, a ‘Like’ or +1 of a positive comment is an acceptable response if you are pressed for time. This is particularly true if your presence has an extremely large following and gets many comments. For Twitter, a quick RT and “Thank you” is a great way to acknowledge compliments.
As for when to wait to respond to a negative complaint: When there are several employees involved in a transaction, take some time to gather all available information to determine what happened, and then formulate just the right response. It’s better to say the right or best thing once, even if it’s a few days after the fact, than the wrong thing too soon. I’ve seen customers return and modify their comments to reflect offline resolution, as well as remove comments made in anger that may not have been entirely fair to the business in the first place.
Usually, the best scenario is to address the details of an online complaint offline. That said, there can be great value in having a constructive dialogue which shows the nature of a complaint and how you resolved it.
What has been your biggest comment challenge? How did you address it?