Pay the Troll Toll - How to Deal with Negative Comments and Reviews
It’s interesting for me when I put content out on social media or I deliver a workshop or class – to listen to the questions that people have about online marketing, it helps me to learn what people need from me and need to know in general! And, what’s really funny is, that no matter what the company size or industry there are the some topics that will come up over and over again - one being how to deal with negative online reviews and comments.
It’s a universal problem in the business community (and a wider problem in society in many ways) but, when you are putting yourself and your brand ‘out there’ you won’t always be met with all things nice, and we are all human at the end of the day, so it’s one of the harder aspects of marketing to deal with as we can take it personally. Our instincts are going into overdrive trying to push us to be reactive when we see a negative or hateful comment, first tip – please DON’T react seconds after you’ve read the comment, take time (not too much mind you!) to consider your next step. Let’s look at what we can do, to mitigate drama and avoid turning it into a full-blown fight #7 Handy Tips;
1. Honesty is the best policy (and read it properly!)
Don’t gloss over and jump the gun, before you start to structure your reply read their negative comment or review a couple of times to make sure you know what they are getting at (sometimes it’s very clear, other times there are implications or language barriers) then, ask yourself; do they have a point? Is this true? If so, take ownership, thank them for the honest feedback, apologise, describe how you’ll work to improve your product or service, make a note of it and share with your team. Don't be hasty, the adrenaline will want you to act fast but take your time, be calm and collected, as due to online algorithms, a massive argument i.e. long thread, pushes that post to the top of rankings making it stand out to potential customers.
2. #Sorrynotsorry The customer is not ALWAYS right.
That said, I do not advocate being overly apologetic, or apologetic at all -IF- you didn’t do anything wrong, and the comment or review is false (years in hospitality have made me realise there are times you need to be sorry, and times you have to walk away from the situation) It’s hard to believe, but the comment could be a competitor from a fake page, someone bored or malicious or someone who is merely mixed up. Saying sorry, if they are saying untrue things about your business, is accepting responsibility, putting yourself down and placing yourself below them, giving them the power.
3. People buy from people, be human.
While it can be handy and more feasible for larger companies to have an automated reply or a template for staff to adhere to for customer service, where possible try to write personal replies that don’t look robotic or generic, it makes people more angry to feel they are being passed on, fobbed off or that they’re just another number – the personal touch can mean a lot. Have a template saved in your phone/computer that you can edit to fit the situation, to save time; but try to avoid copy/paste replies if possible.
4. Make sure your spelling and grammar are correct in your reply
You will be roasted by the commenter, if you have a mistake in your response, and the easiest way to make a typo? Getting fast and furious with your typing after seeing the negative comment. Stick your typed up reply into the Grammarly app before hitting send, to be safe.
5. If in doubt, BAN.
Now, if a comment is profane, rude, 100% untrue, anonymous or inappropriate – that person is a ‘troll’ so hit that BAN button (on Facebook, Instagram) or report (Ebay, Tripadvisor, Google) to get rid of it, and if you feel very threatened, you can remove the reviews option on Facebook, and moderate comments before they’re posted. You can also set a profanity filter on Facebook. It's too easy for keyboard warriors to give small business people unwarranted abuse from behind their screens, so take steps to get rid of this negativity that offers zero value and could be harmful. Or, you can 'Hide' comments on Facebook so only the troll and their friends can still see it, but nobody else will.
6. Turn it around and WIN in the situation
I’ve experienced a situation where, I really decided to take on board what the person was saying in relation to a brand I was looking after, and I had a very honest, public conversation with them outlining why we do what we do, being very honest and taking what they said into consideration – making them feel heard and valued, and.. they ended up buying not once, but several times! I was in shock! Afterwards I’d see them tagging friends in competitions and, using discount codes. They were won over, because they simply needed some clarification. They were accusing the brand of gender stereotyping which wasn’t the case, and a serious accusation - so it worth digging a bit deeper because I knew we could prove our points. If I’d gotten defensive (like every fibre of my being wanted to, initially!) I could have turned away a lot of custom in the name of pride and taking things personally, so in that specific case it was worth winning them over – be aware of those instances.
7. It's not all bad
Having a couple reviews or comments that aren't 5 star or glowing, is not all bad - it builds trust as a matter of fact because like people, no brand is perfect. If you're quite witty your replies could even go viral (but use caution if you're going to go down the controversial/funny route - make sure you are quick witted and can handle any backlash!) We're all learning, we all make mistakes but it's how you deal with them that matters. taking the negatives and making them positive to change your business for the better can be a great thing! All in all, stay cool and hopefully you won’t receive many or indeed, any of these, but – you’ll know what to do if they come along!
If you're struggling to create a consistent strategy for your social media platforms and need some advice, send me a message on firstname.lastname@example.org or follow along over on Instagram where I post tips regularly @mossmarketing
Thank you for reading!