I was the guest presenter this morning at the The Original Lethbridge Business Breakfast Club. I talked about my business and provided a few tips about succeeding on social media. During the Q&A period at the end of my presentation, a few questions focused on responding to negative feedback on social media.

When it comes to dealing with negative feedback, I always recommend taking a positive approach.

Here are the 4 critical components for dealing with negative social media.

1. Say thank you

Thank the customer for their feedback. Without their feedback, it’d be difficult for your company to improve its services and processes.

Thanks for your feedback and for coming to us with your concerns.

2. Take responsibility

Don’t blame others. Don’t rationalize. Just take ownership of what happened.

Thanks for your feedback and for coming to us with your concerns. It’s our fault your driver’s seat had a rip after you dropped off your car for detailing.

3. Apologize

Always apologize for what happened, even if it wasn’t your fault. Don’t make empty apologies (e.g. I’m sorry you feel that way).

Thanks for your feedback and for coming to us with your concerns. It’s our fault your driver’s seat had a rip after you dropped off your car for detailing. We’re sorry for our carelessness, and we’re sorry for how it has affected you.

4. Ask for feedback on how to improve in the future

Asking for constructive, positive feedback can help diffuse a tense, negative situation, and it can build the relationship with your disgruntled customer.

It’s our fault your driver’s seat had a rip after you dropped off your car for detailing. We’re sorry for our carelessness, and we’re sorry for how it has affected you. What suggestions do you have that can help us avoid this unfortunate error from happening in the future?

It’s going to be tempting to be defensive, to minimize your error, or to even prove the customer wrong. Don’t do it. This often causes the situation to escalate, and escalation may lead to an out-of-control situation.

Positive responses focused on repairing the relationship with your customer will show others that you value your customer relationships more than you value your reputation. In actuality, this sort of action will have a positive effect on your reputation.

Now, all this being said, sometimes you have to use your discretion. Occasionally, you may find yourself dealing with trolls: people who are  interested only in stirring up trouble and are unlikely to ever become a client. In that case, positive feedback may not do anything and may even encourage them to continue. You’ll need to determine whether the feedback you receive is genuine or simply someone wanting to stir up trouble. Never confuse the two.

What has worked for you in responding to negative social media feedback? Let me know in the comments below.

About Kim Siever

I am a copywriter, copyeditor, and social media manager. I blog on writing and social media tips mostly, but I sometimes throw in my thoughts about running a small business. Follow me on Twitter at @hotpepper.

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