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10 step guide to handling negative comments on social media

In this step-by-step guide, we outline how best to handle negative comments on your business's social media pages.

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The social media landscape is full of people who like to express their opinions; and these opinions can, more often than not, be negative. Many brands across the globe find themselves dealing with this issue and question how to actually handle and respond to negative feedback about their business.

Well, in this step-by-step guide, we outline how best to handle that negativity.



1. Do not ignore negative comments.

If you receive a negative comment from a customer/client do not ignore it. This will just give them another reason to be angry at your brand. Replying to ALL comments regardless of their sentiment should be practiced as it shows brand initiative and creates a better relationship between you and your audience. Monitoring comments and messages can be made easier by using tools such as Hootsuite, SproutSocial, and AgoraPulse as it combines all messages from all channels into one, easy-to-access place.

 There can be exceptions to this rule. If a customer continues to spam your business’s pages with negative comments, then it is acceptable to block them and delete/hide their messages. This is of course if you have already tried to resolve the issue.




2. Always apologise.

Whether you agree or disagree with the statement ‘the customer is always right’, it goes a long way in the social media space. Even if you do not think that the customer IS right, you should always respond with an apology as it shows the angry customer that your brand is taking responsibility.




3. Do not delay.

Most users across all social media channels expect a rapid response, usually within 2 hours. Timeliness is key with negative comments. If you reply in a timely manner, then it shows to the customer that you care and want to get the issue fixed as soon as possible.

Of course, it can be difficult to stay on top of comments, so if you respond after 2 hours then do not panic. Reply as soon as you possibly can.




4. Politeness is key.

It can be hard to stay level-headed when responding to negative sentiment -especially if the reason for the complaint is not justified – but it’s extremely important to respond in a polite manner. This should go without saying but do not use swear words, even if the customer does. This is because if your happy customers see this, it may sway their opinion of your brand.




5. Avoid promises you can’t keep.

It is not advisable to jump in and offer a promise/offer just to appease the customer and then later not fulfill this. First, make clear of the complaint and then explain to the customer how you plan on fixing the issue. If a customer complains about something, do not rush to offer a discount etc, get them to reach out to you to find out who is wrong and what can be done to resolve this.




6. Get out of the public eye.

If you find yourself dealing with a negative comment, be sure to move the conversation to another place that is out of the spotlight where you can handle the issue personally. You can do this by asking them to reach out by email, direct message, or they can even phone.

Simply add a reply to the comment saying along the lines of, ‘Hi [name], we’re sorry to hear this. Please send us a private message and we can discuss more there.’

Creating a reply war in the comments can cause the angry customer to reply many times, creating more negative sentiment which your loyal customers will see.




7. Make sure your message is personalised.

Chatbots have a place and can be great to reply to general messages, but with complaints, you need to make this as personal as possible. This will show that you care and genuinely want to help. Use the customers’ name in the message and come across as human as possible.




8. Explain the situation.

It is important to make sure you give a reason and explain what has happened to cause the customer to complain. If you fail to do this, the customer may get even more frustrated. As well as explaining what has happened, you should then go through with them how you intend on resolving the situation in a clear and polite manner.

This will also give you a chance to explain if it was an issue that was beyond the fault of your brand.




9. Do not forget to acknowledge the positive comments.

A lot of brands get so wrapped up in dealing with negative comments that they forget about the positive ones. Ensure that you’re responding to these as positive comments are what can build your brand and engagement as it allows you to show gratitude towards those happy customers. You can do this by retweeting, messaging them directly, or replying to the comment.




10. Make sure to document it.

Once the issue has been dealt with, it is important to document it by screenshotting the original comment. This can be done before resolution or after. By documenting it, it will help you if the situation escalates to a larger issue and you need further proof. This is usually the case for larger brands, but your dental practice should make sure to do this too.

By documenting complaints, it can be a good way of training others who will be responding to comments and can be a good place to refer back to FAQ’s, so you know what to do in certain situations.




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