It happens in every industry and to almost every brand, large or small. At some point, someone will not like what you are doing, and if they’re internet-savvy, they may rant enough online to be heard by the masses. Don’t take the guilty approach and ignore it; instead, address the negative in a manner that will shed positive light on you and your company.
Here are three different types of negative feedback, as well as ways to effectively deal with them.
If you own a restaurant, you understand the importance of Yelp. People leave reviews, and sometimes they are not exactly what you want your prospective diners reading. A friend of mine tweeted about a restaurant that had a sign out front that said, “Come and try the worst meatball sandwich that one guy on Yelp ever had in his LIFE.” This restaurant, known for its quirky atmosphere and friendly service, maintained their company personality and made a joke of it. By pointing out that this review came from “that one guy on Yelp,” it downplayed the seriousness of the review. I honestly wonder how many people went into the restaurant that day to try the meatball sandwich because they had to know if it was really “that bad.” The reason this company was effective in dealing with negative feedback is that they stayed true to their company personality and made light of the situation. By addressing bad reviews in a fun and playful manner (when appropriate), businesses can maintain a positive image even in the aftermath of a bad review.
Negative Comments on an Article
In the online PR world, negative comments on articles are a fairly common occurrence. We always have clients asking if they should respond or not. My gut instinct tells me they should always respond. There may be instances when someone’s comment is so offensive and off-the-wall that it does not merit a response, but normally, it’s better to respond. One of our clients wrote an article about what he has learned thusfar about business. His article drew over 1,500 social shares, which showed that people obviously enjoyed it or found something useful in it. With thousands of readers, it drew negative feedback as well. The author did an amazing job of addressing the negative comments with tact. He thanked each of the commenters for their contributions and cleared up any misunderstandings they had. He also restated why he held these opinions and did not give up his ground. His responses were great. When responding to negative comments on articles, make sure to thank the person for his or her opinion and then find common ground without caving in. People will respect your attempt at connecting with them.
I absolutely hate when companies say they shouldn’t be on social media because they can’t control the message. I have heard banks, universities, and other institutions say they can’t “do social media” because they are scared that people will write negative comments on their pages. What they’re forgetting is that people will write negative things about them if they want to, regardless of whether the institution has social media accounts. By creating accounts for your company/institution, you are enabling people to voice their opinions (good or bad) in a place that you have access to – thus, you can respond to them easily.
I recommend that companies address negative comments on social media quickly and personally. A great example of this was mentioned in an article in The Guardian. It explains a complaint that someone had about LA Fitness’ cancellation policy and how, within minutes, someone from LA Fitness replied, asking how he could help and giving the user a person to email. This quick and personal response is imperative when responding to negative feedback. People are going to complain, and now they’re going to complain to their hundreds or thousands of followers, so it is worth having a real-life person monitoring the complaints and working to satisfy each and every customer.
I hope that you aren’t reading this, thinking, “Well, everyone loves my company and my brand, so we don’t have to deal with negative feedback.” If that’s the case, please DM me your website because I want to learn your secrets. If you aren’t so perfect, then please take these examples and learn how to react to negative feedback in an effective way that adds value to your customers and your company.
Kelsey Meyer is the VP of Digital Talent Agents, an online PR company that helps experts establish themselves as thought leaders in an industry.