Handling Negative Reviews on Social Media

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Everyone has an opinion; that has been the status quo since the beginning of time and that’s a fact that will stand the test of time. The difference between now and 100 years ago is everyone has a voice online. Now, when it comes to customers’ opinion of your shop, you hope for the best, but it’s also good to prepare for the worst.

Social media levels the playing field when it comes to people voicing their opinions. Everyone can say anything about you, and you’ll want to try and use that to your advantage. But what if someone has an interaction with an employee who’s having a bad day or the customer themselves is having a bad day and decides to unleash their anger on your Facebook or Twitter page? Do you have a plan for a negative review?

1. Stay Up-to-Date on Social Media

This tip is pretty standard for almost all aspects of customer interaction. How would you know that you even have a bad review if you aren’t regularly checking your social media or have delegated that job to someone?

“If someone really wanted to do a good job of managing social meadia, they need to have someone whose job, or a portion of their job, is to manage social media,” said Dr. Erica Irlbeck, assistant professor at Texas Tech University. “If you’re going to use social media as a form of communication, you need to be checking it every day.”

Irlbeck also mentioned you should not only be checking your own page, you should be looking around for what people are saying about you elsewhere as well. The easiest way to keep track of people talking about you or your shop is a Google alert. Set up a few of these that could be connected to your shop and you’ll get notifications when people start chatting about your shop. To set this up, go to Google alerts (http://www.google.com/alerts). It’ll prompt you to type in a keyword or phrase of what you’re looking for. If I was setting up an alert for myself, I would type, “Hunter Howard Lubbock,” “Hunter Howard NOLN” or “Hunter Howard Texas Tech University.” You’ll want a few different variations and cast your net wide to make sure you catch what’s being said.

2. Respond Quickly

If you get a nasty review or comment, there is no doubt a sooner response will warrant a sense of caring about customers. It’s OK to take a little bit of time and think about a response rather than hastily reply with no real plan — just don’t take a week to do it.

“As soon as you see it, respond,” Irlbeck said. “You don’t want to leave that negative comment unanswered.”

3. Admitting Your Mistake

Let’s face it: you or one of your employees made a mistake. That’s OK, it happens to the best of us. What you don’t want to do is hide in your shop while your reputation goes down the drain.

“Once you figure out the situation and how you’re going to rectify that, you need to be pretty clear with a statement,” Irlbeck said. “That’s really where social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter can help you.”

The basic objectives you’ll want to cover in your statement should be: here’s what happened, we made a mistake, we apologize for that mistake and here’s what we’re doing to fix it.

4. Don’t Delete the Review

 If someone makes a negative review or comment, your first instinct might be to delete it, but more often than not, this can cause you harm. If someone makes a comment, they expect to be responded to, not hidden from the public view.

“You want to be transparent,” Irlbeck said. “You’re not going to be able to please everybody. But if you delete it, it will only make it worse. They will comment more asking, ‘Why did you delete my post?’ Let them say their negative piece and respond to it so the public can see how you respond.”

If you delete a negative comment, you risk bringing an avalanche of potentially worse comments and reviews down on yourself and your shop. The only time it’s recommended to delete a post is when the post becomes inappropriate or offensive.

5. False Claims

The best thing to do when someone makes a negative comment or review about your shop without merit is to be direct and deny the claim.

“Respond along the lines of, ‘Sorry you feel that way, but we had nothing to do with that,’ and be courteous,” Irlbeck said.

You need to be 100-percent positive no mistakes were made when taking this approach, otherwise if the customer has proof, it will come back to bite you.

6. It Will Fade

Nothing lasts forever, and nobody is perfect. Bad situations and bad reviews are a dime a dozen nowadays, and there is nothing you can do to prevent a disgruntled customer from posting on your social media. Accept that as a fact, and you’ll feel a lot better about managing social media.

7. Social Media is a Job

Years ago it was laughable that someone would consider posting to Twitter and posting on Facebook as part of their job, but that’s the reality of the world we live in.

“It’s easy to put on the back-burner,” Irlbeck said. “But if social media is a part of your job description, you need to be working on it, and it might take up a large part or even your entire day. It’s another tool in our kit of communication, and it has to be cared for.”

Social media usage has skyrocketed recently, and if you aren’t on top of your game, you might get passed without a second glance. If you don’t already, appoint a social media manager on your team. Realize this might take time out of their day, but the dividends it pays out are much larger than time lost. Good social media allows people to communicate with you and makes the customer feel valuable, as they should. Use social media to your advantage, and you’ll have a solid platform in no time.  

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