Social media 101: how to deal with negative customer reviews

Often, criticism can be uncomfortable to take, and de-stabilizes our belief in ourselves. This can appear even worse when your flaws are highlighted publically, and is becoming more frequent in our technological age. However, it is often the case that people do not pay attention to the criticism itself, but how a company can compose itself after receiving it, which means that it can more often have a positive, rather than a negative, impact. So, just how should you deal with negative customer reviews?

Stay calm
It is easy to get carried away in the heat of the moment, and want to react instantly to a criticism. But, the best option would be to calm down beforehand, and to take time to carefully craft a reasonable reply. It will only cause more of an issue if the criticism begins an argument – remember, the customer is always right, and it will only reflect badly on your company.

Answer publically with an apology
One aspect of social media that a company needs always bear in mind is that it is a public platform, meaning that the review will be shown to a larger audience. In this instance, a public apology is required, to show those that may have seen the customer’s review that this is not the typical standard of your business. A public apology serves to mediate those that may have been put off by the criticism, and shows that your business is aware and regretful of this bad experience.

Try and take the complaint to a private platform (email, direct message etc)
That being said do try and take the issue to a private platform (by issuing them a direct means of contacting your company). It is best to not let the reviewer continue to state their opinion publically, and it becomes easier to rectify the issue when in more private way. Be empathetic at this stage, and try to resolve their issue. If needs be, consider offering compensation.

Go public again
Once completely resolved, consider again addressing the issue publically to let those that may be following the result of the complaint that it was dealt with properly. This will boost your reputation, rather than hinder it, as it shows a proactive approach to trying to keep good customer relations.

Follow up on the person that complained, ensuring that everything is OK
Maintaining good customer relations is crucial for ensuring repeat customers. By following up on the issue, you are proving to the person that your company does value their customers, and also highlighting that you are taking all the correct measures to make sure they are happy with their service.

Diagnose the problem within your own work, and resolve it
Now that the issue of dealing with the unhappy customer has been resolved, it is time to look at the reason for their complaint. Diagnose exactly why they were unhappy, and seek to resolve the issue internally. Criticism is meant to be constructive, so by acting on it, it is an opportunity to improve the company’s faults – overall enabling better customer service in the future.

Encourage all reviews – not just the good
It is a good idea to promote a reviewing platform, to give all customers the option to give feedback. However, it is crucial that you do not only promote good reviews, as it is often honest, and not false, feedback that is trusted. Customers may get sceptical of the sincerity of the reviews written about your company if they are all rave reviews. It is also not benefitting your company if you do not give the option to give back feedback, as you will not be able to learn from it.

Accept that bad reviews will happen
Just be equipped to deal with them appropriately when they do. Don’t expect every customer to be completely satisfied with the service they received, and understand that bad reviews will happen. What is crucial is that you are equipped to deal with them appropriately when they do come, and that you do not take them personally. Just learn from criticism.

Don’t get defensive and argue back
It will only antagonise the person more, and cause a bad reputation for your company. If a person complains, they mostly expect the problem to be rectified, not further worsened by bad customer service.

Don’t ignore the review
This will again only aggravate the person that complained, and also won’t benefit your business in any way. They likely want a reply or they wouldn’t have written something for you to see. Remember, reviewing systems are not just there to make you aware of the faults in a business, but to make you act on the faults.

Any views or opinions expressed in this briefing are for guidance only and are not intended as a substitute for appropriate professional guidance. We have taken all reasonable steps to ensure the information contained herein is accurate at the time of writing but it should not be regarded as a complete or authoritative statement of law.