You are feeling good, accomplished, and happy that you have the time to go over all the comments you received while you were away. You like, heart, and respond “We are glad you liked it!” you keep on going when suddenly there it is, the type of comment you were glad you hadn’t found a second ago. It reads something like this “I will never recommend (name of your business/product) to anyone, stay away people! Save yourselves from a really bad experience.” Now the palms of your hands are sweaty, and your heart is definitely beating faster. What can I do? You ask yourself, delete it? Probably no one has seen it, this person wrote it at 3 am, but what if he/she realizes I deleted it and makes a bigger deal? I’ll just ignore it, probably people will not read all of the comments. No, you know what, I am going to reply! And will let this person know that is not okay to say such things about us without giving any explanation. And now you are just frozen because all the options seem like a good idea.
I have been there, I know the feeling and I was always tempted to delete the comments because of my natural inclination to avoid conflict. Luckily, my boss at the marketing agency where I took care of the Hispanic social media for Lowe’s told me, “Edith you have to reply!”
As scared as I felt, I did reply, and I noticed that doing so in a timely manner helped stop the "snowball effect” AKA more people jumping in and writing negative comments.
What I’ve learned over the years is that remaining silent or pretending it never happened only causes more trouble. The best thing to do is have an honest, and sincere positive confrontation. Specially on social media where a lot of people are witnessing your conversations.
Now you are probably thinking "ok cool, but how do I respond?”Don't worry, I got your back! below you can find some of guidelines I follow, ready? Here they are:
Always start with a greeting “Hi, (person’s name) we would like to learn more about your experience with our product/service, could you send us a private message (or if you have an email address for complaints you can add it here) with more details about the situation?
If the complaint is simply a statement like “I hate these colors” simply say “we respect your opinion.” Because that’s what it is and there is nothing you can do or should do to change it, they have the right to have an opinion and so do you.
3. When the person has a legit complaint, gives you all the details you need to understand their situation, and its obvious that your team, company or product feel short, admit it graciously, and invite the person to send you a private message so you can discuss privately possible solutions. That way you don’t have other people trying to take advantage of the situation. Example: “(Person’s name) thank you for taking the time to let us know about this situation, we sincerely appreciate it. Then invite them to send you a private message that includes a specific detail such as order number, employee they talked to, product number, etc. Once you receive the message, you can start discussing possible solutions.
This is the perfect opportunity to turn a negative situation into a positive. How you respond can set you apart from your competitors and can win you a loyal customer.
4. In case the comment is completely defamatory and they are saying things that you know for a fact didn’t happen, you can politely state the facts, and avoid any type of qualifying adjectives. It’s crucial that you stick to the facts, so you don’t fall into an aggressive, nonproductive argument. Remember! you need to positively confront this person or situation.
5. The only time it is ok to delete a comment is when they are using language that is profane, racist, or sexist. But that is up to you and your company. You decide what is appropriate or not.
Overall, the main goal is to take the conversation out of the public eye, while at the same time showing to the people that are witnessing the conversation that you are aware, responsive, and that you care and listen to what they have to say.
Replying to negative comments, and engaging in difficult conversations will set the tone, and your community will understand that if they have something to say you are willing to listen but you are also willing to take a stand for your brand or product when it’s needed.