Dealing with Negative Comments
Your brand is being talked about whether you join the conversation or not. But, what you need to understand is that joining the conversation does not mean that you control what people say. Many brand managers are outraged when their Facebook pages or blogs feature negative commentary. Oftentimes, it’s a manager’s instinct to immediately remove anything negative and only leave happy comments online.
Don’t fall into this trap.
The great thing about the Internet (and the scary thing for brands) is that people can openly share information with one another – good or bad.
The key to being a good online corporate citizen is transparency. For good or bad, it’s important to let your customers express their feelings about your products/services. If you are facing negative commentary, instead of trying to wipe it off the face of the earth, take a moment to ask yourself the following questions –
- Who is this person that’s upset? Is this someone that was once a loyal customer? Is this person new to our brand?
- Why is this person upset? Did we fail in our customer service? Was our product not up to his/her standards? Is our product not as good as a competitor’s?
- How can we address this issue? Will a simple apology make things better? Do we need to replace the product or offer an incentive for the person to try us again?
- What is the best way to contact this person? Should we continue the conversation in an open forum, or should we try to reach this person offline?
Speaking from the perspective of the consumer, when a company is open about its mistakes and addresses them in a timely, effective manner, I’ve changed my negative opinion about a brand. For example, a few months ago I tweeted a complaint about my local FedEx. Within minutes, a company representative tweeted me back, apologizing and asking for my contact information so that she could get more information. By the end of the day I had talked on the phone with a person who had contacted my local branch and cleared up the situation. They couldn’t undo the past, but I left the experience feeling satisfied and like the brand actually cared about its customers.
Instead of ignoring my issue, FedEx took my complaint as an opportunity to showcase excellent customer service. So, if someone says something not so nice about your brand, make sure to listen to the complaint (there’s normally something to learn and improve for the future) and address it in a timely, effective manner.