The Golden Rules: How to Respond to Negative Chat on Social Media
Buffet’s guide to navigating social biffs appropriately, without hurting feelings or reputations and most importantly, keeping your customers happy.By Molly Urquhart and Gemma Plunkett
So someone’s slid into your business’s DMs or has commented on a post with Some Things To Say. It’s not good, or maybe it is, either way you must respond. Not sure how? Fair enough. While responding to something positive is typically a lot easier (you can simply say “thanks!”), when things turn a little sour it’s often easier to get defensive and not listen or take advice on board.
To sharpen up your social media etiquette we recommend the following five tips to peacefully, calmly and respectfully navigate a negative review or feedback. Deep breaths, people, let’s go.
Never delete, always respond.
Perhaps the most golden of the golden rules – any feedback, whether it’s a comment, message or something else, should never be deleted. The only thing that should be deleted is hate-speech, including abusive, offensive, racist or sexist comments. If it’s on a public platform, reply in the comments and let them know you acknowledge their message and have sent them a DM. (It’s not just the disgruntled customer you want to prove yourself and your proactivity to, but your entire audience.) If it’s already in your DMs, great, it’s already private. The main goal here is to take this discussion indoors.
Take it offline ASAP.
First things first - ensure your customer’s voice is heard. Message something along the lines of “we’d love to chat with you further about your experience. If you don't mind sharing your contact details with us and good time to call, we'll get in touch.” Calling is best. Straight out the gate the customer knows you’re taking their experience seriously – it also eliminates any possibility of misunderstanding or misinterpretation through writing.
Cool your jets.
Yes, maybe your ego or business has been insulted (in your opinion), but expressing your disagreement with their opinion or experience is a huge no-no. Firing up is only going to start a fight and make things worse – the last thing you want is a disgruntled customer commenting negatively on every. single. post you publish with their thoughts – trust us, it happens!
Don’t forget your manners!
Just like your ABCs, your pleases and thank yous should never be forgotten. When interacting with this customer use their name (and sign off with yours!) – you don’t want to seem like a bot! This simple etiquette makes the convo a little less auto-response-y and a whole lot more sincere. Always thank people for being honest or for sharing their thoughts. Even if you don't agree, it’s good to let the customer know you’ve read and understood their concern and experience and you don’t want to discount it. “Hey there Alice, thanks for sharing your honest review… All the best, John.”
Do your follow ups.
Remember, there’s no point in doing the hard yards if you’re not going to follow through – follow up with the customer and follow up with your team. If you haven’t heard back from the customer, get in touch again a few days later to check in. Don’t forget, it’s vital you pass on the feedback internally so this experience can be learned from and the team is aware. If this person (hopefully) does business with you again, ensure their next experience is even better.
It comes down to two simple things: the customer just wants to feel heard and know you’re being proactive. Feedback is super important and it's great to have a direct line with customers through social media. (Gentle reminder: don’t dismiss every negative review as being straight-up wrong, you may miss out on helpful feedback and suggestions.) If you feel like you’re getting nowhere, even after doing your diplomatic best, it may be time to put it to rest. Perhaps send them a message like “we’re really sorry to hear about your experience, we’ve passed your feedback onto the team so this won’t happen again. Thank you, John”. Now, you’ve done all you can.
Thank you for your support, we hope you’ve enjoyed your time on Lazy Susan. For more tips on how to interact with your online community, click this very link. Please get in touch if there’s anything else, content or otherwise, we can help with. The email-line is always open.
All the best,
Gemma and Molly