Social media: Responding to negative reviews

Quick answer: You may hit occasional social media speed bumps, in the form of negative comments or reviews. Don’t ignore them, respond quickly, and let people know changes you’ve made to address issues.

Once you’ve launched your social media site or sites, you can start enjoying watching your audience grow and interacting with the customers who love you.

But you may hit occasional social media speed bumps, in the form of negative comments or reviews. Maybe a customer gave your restaurant a negative review when the chef was having an off night. And maybe the customer’s expectation was not realistic based on what your company offers. Nevertheless it’s now there: A low or negative rating or comment, right there for everyone on the Internet to see. What should you do?

How to take action

Instructions: Click each item to learn more.

Don't ignore the negative comment.

It’s important to embrace transparency on the Internet. What your customers, including the unhappy one, will be judging you on is how you respond to this comment. So, don’t ignore the negative comment, don’t ask the poster to remove the comment, and don’t remove it yourself. Use the opportunity to turn the situation around. Negative comments about a business actually can be beneficial, if the business responds appropriately.

Respond promptly, and acknowledge what the poster said.

If your store was too busy or service slow or rude, say something like, “Hi Joe, we are so sorry to hear you had that experience at our store. It’s true we have been a little short-staffed lately, and you’ll be happy to hear we have hired three more cashiers. I’d like to connect with you directly about this, so please call [store number] and ask for Sarah. I hope to hear from you.”

When the customer calls, listen to his feedback and repeat how sorry you are that he had that experience. If it seems appropriate, you might offer him a 20% discount for his next visit/product purchase. More than a third of users who had posted a negative comment come back and post a positive comment after the business worked with them to resolve the issue; some even deleted their original negative comment.

If you made changes as a result of the comment, say so.

If you added inventory, fired a crabby waiter, or fixed a reservation policy so wait times were reduced, let everyone who follows you know that on your page. It helps build trust and community, and makes each customer feel that much more valued.

If you take the time to respond to as many customer comments as you can — positive or negative — that can build more good will than any fancy marketing campaign.