In the world of social media, people are opinionated. Very opinionated. It’s inevitable that at some point in time, the dreaded negative review will rear its’ ugly head. Negative reviews are sometimes reasonable, and other times, not. We’ve all seen those people who just can’t be pleased. We’ve all probably, and unfortunately, experienced truly bad products and/or service. I try to only spend the time to give feedback if it’s positive, but I know that’s not everyone. Social media has groomed some people to feel the opposite is true. So, just how should you handle negative reviews on social media? This is a methodology that I’ve been training clients on for a while, with really positive feedback.

Act Quickly

There isn’t much worse to a customer than to feel ignored. If they’re voicing a concern, it’s even more damaging for them to feel ignored. What else is damaging? Having all the other users see negative reviews that are never responded to. It just plain looks bad. It looks like you don’t care. It’s important to make sure that the individual with the issue feels like you’re addressing them, directly, in a prompt manner.

Social media negative reviews

88% of consumers trust online reviews. Make sure you’re handling the negative ones properly

The truth is, social media shows no mercy. If it’s taught society anything, it’s that gratification is instant. Surveys indicate that 42% of users expect a response to negative reviews within 60 minutes, 32% within 30 minutes (Convince and Convert). Wow! What’s more shocking is that 57% noted that the time of day and day of the week should not affect the response times (Convince and Convert.) The clock is against you in the world of social media negative reviews so act quickly.

Respond, Don’t React

What does this mean? Respond to their concern. Do not react to their negativity. What’s the difference? Emotions. Do not react emotionally to it. In doing so, you will more likely be combative, defensive, irrational, and rude. Respond, without emotion, by being calm, collected, polite. If you are an emotional person, or who gets very passionate, you may want to assign someone else to help you here. Unless, of course, you can cool off within the 30-60 minute window.

Some of the negative reviews may come from trolls. Some will be from people who simply cannot be satisfied. Most will be from good customers who simply had a bad experience (potentially also on top of a bad day.) Everything you say and do on social media will be visible. You will be judged by how you handle this. By giving no emotional reaction, and no negative reaction, you place the power back in your hand. You remove the fuel the trolls feed on. You make those who simply cannot be satisfied look unreasonable. Most importantly, you give good customers (the majority) the right kind of response that they deserve.

Be careful that the words, and tone of your written response, don’t berate the customer.

It’s important to point out that you should not try to remove any negative reviews. Why? It’ll piss people off! Plain and simple. Even if they weren’t ignored, they’ll be more upset if you remove their opinions. Nobody wants their voice taken away. If you handle the negative reviews appropriately, they will not affect you as negatively as you may think. Besides, would you trust a brand who had 200 perfect reviews and no bad ones?

Have Clarity

Be clear about how you’re going to structure your response. Be clear in your strategies to do so. Use facts and be sure to acknowledge the specifics of the negative review. What was the complaint? What can be done to correct it? How did you handle the at-fault party? Clarity is your best friend, here.

Here is the structure I recommend:

  1. Apologize
  2. Acknowledge
  3. Present Facts
  4. Thank Them

Example of how to use this structure is in the next paragraph.

Regardless of the situation, always offer an apology that’s tailored to the issue. Even if they aren’t being reasonable in their complaint. While I know the customer is not always right, I also know it is not OK to tell them they are wrong. It is our job, in business, to help the client through their struggles until their issues are resolved reasonably, fairly, and accurately. Regardless of where the fault lies. Do not get taken advantage of, but do not ever discount a complaint.

Offer Resolution

Communicate directly with the individual. Speak with them, not at them, so watch the ‘tone’ of the written response. Offer to communicate to them, privately, by PM / DM, telephone, email, etc. Give them options, publicly, and put the ball in their court.

Negative reviews are an opportunity to excel at customer service.

Let’s say a complaint was made about the wait time and service received in your restaurant. As a result, you received a negative review. Here’s an example of how to handle it (quickly and without emotion.)

“Hello, Crystal. We sincerely apologize that our service and staff wasn’t up to par with your visit today. We were busier than expected, thus understaffed. However, it is still our responsibility to give you the best dining experience possible. We’ve spoken to your waiter and our kitchen staff [don’t say this if it isn’t true]. We will use this feedback as an opportunity to improve our abilities to serve customers. Especially during peak hours. We thank you for taking the time to help us understand where we can do better. We’d love to speak with you via telephone, email, or through PM to help you further. We’d also like to offer you a complimentary appetizer on your next visit. We value your opinion and your business.”

Proactive > Reactive

People are unreasonable sometimes. Trolls are a real thing. Your competitors may give you bad reviews. Handle any and all negative reviews using the same clear strategy. You offer a resolution and ask to discuss it further privately. If they do not respond back in any way, follow up within 48 hours. Proactively try and get them to allow resolution. After that, the ball is in their court.

If they do respond to you but cannot seem to be satisfied, offer them a recommendation. Is there a larger restaurant with more tables and a bigger kitchen down the road? Do you know the owners? Can you speak to them and make a referral? Trying to proactively resolve negative reviews will only look good to the eyes of your good customers. Remember, even the best customers have bad experiences because we aren’t perfect. Many negative reviews can be resolved and turned into loyal customers.

The way you handle your negative reviews will be talked about more than the reason for the complaint itself!

Don’t Fear Negative Reviews

Hopefully, you’ll never have a negative review, but in the event you do, I hope this article helps you better handle it. If you need us to address anything on a more granular level, or help you create a clear strategy for handling negative reviews, we’re happy to help. You can reach out to us anytime and we’ll be happy to take a look. No matter what happens, keep on keeping on. Don’t get discouraged. Don’t let negative reviews destroy the positivity social media has on our business or our lives.

Thanks for reading!