Did you know that “56% of customer tweets to companies are being ignored.”? (source: ) That’s scary. One of the most functional aspects of social media platforms is their ability to provide you with insight pertaining to how your business is perceived by others. Why would anyone want to ignore that? More to the point, what’s the purpose of putting together and maintaining a social presence for your business if you’re not going to pay attention and use it to your advantage? And yes, that includes reading and responding to customer comments, inquiries and most especially, complaints.
No one takes particularly well to negative criticism and complaining. And if you want to keep your head buried in the sand and not know what people are really thinking, then perhaps networking your business via social platforms isn't for you! But, why not look at it this way: Every negative comment, complaint and criticism you receive is an opportunity to glean valuable information and to implement positive change. Feedback, whether positive or negative, is never a bad thing.
How to Respond to Negative Comments & Criticism
Let’s identify the different types of negative comments & deal with them accordingly:
1. If a comment is negative but polite and offers some constructive criticism and/or suggestions as to how to remedy the issue at hand, that’s great! Take into serious consideration what the poster is telling you and decide if it makes sense for your business. Respond by thanking the poster for bringing the issue to your attention and for his suggestions, and validate him by letting him know that you will take said suggestions under advisement.
2. If a comment is negative and carries an irate tone and the poster is lodging more of a complaint than criticism, again, you want to validate his feelings. Placate him. Start by letting him know that you’re sorry to hear of his less than satisfactory interaction with your business and that you appreciate his forthrightness. Let him know that you value his business and that you’ll do what’s called for to remedy the issue. It warranted, offer him an incentive to ensure that he remains a faithful customer (a partial rebate, service free of charge next time, etc.). He’ll appreciate this, be satisfied and will likely want to spread the word that yours is a wonderful company to deal with! Customer service at its finest.
3. If a comment is negative, unconstructive, deprecating and/or rude, things can get a little dicier. While you want to try to keep your customers happy, you in no way have to be subjected to rudeness and insensitivity. You have two options in this case, and either one would be justifiable.
First, you could simply delete the comment and ignore it. Again, it’s written nowhere that you have to put up with someone else’s bad behavior. (And, although it might be tempting, whatever you do, don’t respond in kind by letting him know what an @$#%!@#% he is. I posted a few months back on how to NOT respond to customer complaints.)
The other option is for you to try to deal with this Neanderthal as you would the poster in point #2 above. Try to placate him and let him know that you’re sorry that his dealings with your business were less than satisfactory. You just might be able to calm the savage beast, but often, people like that are not to be satisfied no matter what you do. In fact, more often than not, these people just want to get something for nothing, or simply love to stir up trouble. Bear in mind also, that this poster could be a competitor just trying to play hardball with you.
If, however, there is some merit to the poster’s outrage (someone in your organization made a real blunder), it might be worth investigating. Only you can know and decide for sure if there might be something behind a poster’s emotional outcry. If there is a serious internal problem (and I’m not saying that the poster is any more justified in being rude if that’s the case) it might be just as well that it was brought to your attention, even if it was in such a negative manner.
The moral of the story is that it’s never okay to ignore your customers on social media sites. If you do, you might just wind up not having any customers to ignore!