The Worst Ways to Respond to Negative Online Reviews
It’s a mantra that has been repeated time and again by marketers, but one that some businesses still fail to acknowledge: Social media isn’t just about broadcasting (i.e. One way communication). If you’re a business that’s still sitting on the fence, it’s time to come down on the side of interaction.
So many companies, especially those that are smaller and may not have the resource for all-out social media campaigns, adhere to the misguided policy that social is just another channel through which they can promote offers and talk about themselves. They ignore feedback that comes through their Facebook or Twitter accounts, or worse still, delete it and pretend it never existed.
Allow me to cite a recent example from my own experience. A couple of weeks ago I took part in a charity banger rally to raise money for the Parenta Trust. In high spirits, we boarded a ferry to Dunkirk, clad in fancy dress and equipped with branded tins to collect donations. The marketing manager at Parenta asked the ship’s manager if we could get a shout out on the comms system, and was told not only that this wasn’t a reasonable request, but also that asking for donations was considered harassment and there would be consequences should we be found to be doing so. A number of us tweeted the ferry operator to express our dismay, but no acknowledgement was made, let alone any attempt to smooth things over. As a result, the operator had 40 irritated customers aboard their ship and none of us will be recommending them to our friends.
Here’s what could have happened if they had a marketing team that paid attention to their social accounts. Somebody could’ve have picked up the message and come back to apologise for the upset caused. They could then have either supported his decision with the necessary justification or attempted to make amends by offering a donation or even simply requesting for the organisers to call the customer services team to sort things out. Such elementary customer care should not be beyond such a large company, yet it seems to have been.
Why respond to social comments?
Responding to negative reviews online should be an essential part of every business’ customer care strategy. Social media is a powerful tool and if momentum builds from dissatisfied customers, a brand’s reputation can end up being damaged. Responding to a bad review is an opportunity to turn that negative into a positive by showing an element of humanity behind the corporate facade. A simple apology goes a long way and, better yet, an offer to contact the customer to resolve things can change outright negativity into assurance that they are valued.
It’s important not to take negative feedback to heart and respond with heat. A polite, helpful response is normally all that the dissatisfied customer is looking for online – a resolution can be found outside of the public sphere. Bear in mind that the negative review itself will not necessarily put other customers off, but a failure to respond might. People want to know that the business they purchase from has its consumers’ needs and interests at heart, so potential buyers are likely to respect a company for providing a pleasant, helpful response to a complaint.
Best practice tips for social reputation management
The main message here is don’t, under any circumstance, ignore negative feedback – it won’t do you any favours. When a customer submits a negative review, apologise and try to find a way to make their experience more positive. Give them a number to call or ask for their email address so that you can send them a gift voucher or other token. The chances are, they’ll be mollified by the knowledge that you care and may even continue to recommend your services.
If you ask for their contact details in order to follow up the complaint, make sure you follow it up. Promising to make amends and then not bothering to is as bad as, if not worse than, not responding in the first place. Don’t feed them a line on the internet and then hope the problem goes away – that’s likely to cause a customer to complain again, possibly in more vehement terms.
Don’t have the resource for Social Media campaigns?
Small and medium sized companies often don’t have the resource to monitor social media channels as closely as they would like. If this is the case, it may be wise to consider employing the services of an external agency.
Agencies cannot only provide a response to online reviews through social engagement packages, they can also monitor your brand’s reputation on a wider level. Many social brand protection packages offer a service whereby the agency searches for mentions of your brand and feeds back to you the general feeling about it among consumers. This can be very useful when it comes to evaluating customer care and improving your reputation.
Responding to negative online reviews is a simple yet extremely effective way to ensure your brand reputation is secure and that potential consumers aren’t put off. In this era of consumer power, it’s something you really can’t afford to avoid any longer.
Other Articles on negative reviews
Contact Whitefish Marketing for Social Media Marketing
At Whitefish Marketing we can assist with all your Social Media marketing requirements. Our social service is divided into 3 core areas of Social Presence, Social Engagement, and Social Reputation Management (The later being the topic of this post). Speak with a representative from Whitefish Marketing - digital marketing specialists in Kent - for further information.