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Handle With Care: Handling Negative Social Media Comments

reputation management

Having a social network presence opens the door for customers to communicate with businesses. This communication comes in the form of comments made, both directly to the business, and to friends, about their satisfaction.  Or not.

Businesses have to face the reality that negative comments are going to come in, regardless of whether the products sold or services provided are of high quality or not. What do businesses do if customers post negative comments?  How should businesses respond to those who are not satisfied?

Find the Root Cause

The first thing businesses need to do when they receive a negative comment is to determine the root cause.  What prompted the negativity?  Was it something the company posted online or was it a negative experience in the retail store?  Did the person who filed the complaint reacting to someone else’s post or experience?  The bottom line is, who is at fault?

If the company caused the dissatisfaction, then it is important to address the problem immediately.  Since the negative comment was posted online, it is important for the business to rectify the situation and post a response about the solution publicly.  The situation needs to be acknowledged with fault admitted, and a solution presented.  This will allow the relationship between the business and customer to continue to thrive.

If there is miscommunication and the customer is in the wrong, then it is wise for the company to move the conversation away from the public forum.  Customers can be invited to continue the conversation privately, either through email or on the phone.

Find the Right Response

Depending on what the situation is, after the root cause is determined, businesses need to figure out the best way to respond.  If the customer is not happy with a product, it might be appropriate for the company to offer a refund if that person had an issue with it that cannot be rectified.  If the problem is due to user error, a short tutorial might be the appropriate resolution.

Sometimes, people post negative comments purely for the need to vent.  In these cases, it isn’t even appropriate for the business to respond at all with a solution.  Just thanking the customer for their comment and leaving it at that is a good solution.  It is also possible that there are times when it isn’t even worth the time to reply because the conversation has not chance of being productive.  In these cases, the person is not looking for a resolution, but simply a place to vent.

When Worse Comes to Worse

When companies face the few-and-far-between customer that obviously will not be happy with anything that is offered, they need to consider deleting the comment or banning the person.  This action should be reserved as a last resort.  This is especially appropriate if the company has tried repeatedly to resolve the issue without any results.  This is also an appropriate action to take if profanity or offensive comments are posted.

It is important for companies to monitor their customers’ comments.  When relationships are positive between businesses and their customers, negative comments don’t pop up very often.  When they do, it is essential that the company doesn’t take it personally and responds appropriately to the concern sooner than later.  Sometimes, when they are happy with the customer service, people posting negative comments can eventually become the company’s most loyal customers.

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