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How to Deal with Negative Social Media Comments

Social media customer service is more than just listening for your brand name. Here are some tips on how to handle negative comments while preserving the integrity of your brand.

If your business has a presence on Facebook, Twitter, or other social media platforms, it’s practically inevitable that you’ll receive a negative comment about your people or your products. If left untended, such complaints can multiply, causing potentially irreparable harm to your brand.

You’ll need to know how to respond to that customer feedback in a way that both satisfies the commenter, if possible, and shows others who may see the exchange that your business is customer focused. The key is designing a policy that demonstrates your adherence to quality and customer service, while at the same time resolving a specific issue to everyone's satisfaction.

Here are some tips that experienced social media managers employ to help provide the best customer service via social media.

Adopt a Rapid-Response Policy

When it comes to responding to a customer's negative comment on social media, waiting five minutes may feel to them like an hour, and waiting an hour may feel like a day. Such delays are considered unacceptable by many social media users, who may only complain louder and more frequently the longer they feel they're being ignored.

Your business should strive to respond to complaints within one hour. That doesn’t mean you have to solve the issue immediately. You can simply acknowledge that the complaint has been noted and that you're looking into a solution. Often, an unhappy customer simply wants to know he or she is being heard.

Your business should strive to respond to complaints within one hour. That doesn’t mean you have to solve the issue immediately.

As you respond, keep in mind that one of the worst things you can do is to rely upon a generic, automated reply. As has been demonstrated repeatedly by many businesses over the years, sending an impersonal message to an emotional customer service request may cause the commenter to become even more belligerent.

The message the commenter may hear in this case is, “I'm too busy to listen to your complaints and don't necessarily care about your personal satisfaction.” This kind of reaction can result in the ultimate loss of the customer, who may also be more than happy to expand their negative feedback via additional posts and on other social media platforms.

Acknowledge your Error

Whether or not you're truly at fault, it's important to acknowledge that a mistake has been made and to take responsibility for resolving the matter. Honesty and transparency are traits widely admired on social media, and when you "own" the situation, you may enhance your brand's reputation for prompt customer service.

Your initial response should be conversational in tone (no angry, defensive or passive-aggressive replies), it should ideally incorporate the customer's name, and end with a promise to look into the situation immediately. This should serve to disarm and calm the commenter, so that he or she doesn’t feel the need to further excoriate your brand online.

Paychex client service (@PaychexService) offers examples of two appropriate responses:

  • [Username] I understand your frustration. I'd like to make sure you're getting the help you need. Would you mind if we gave you a call?
  • Thanks for bringing this to our attention [First Name]. We’d like to help get this resolved for you. Can you DM your contact info?

Honesty and transparency are traits widely admired on social media, and when you own the situation, you may enhance your brand's reputation for prompt customer service.

Take the Situation Offline

As soon as possible, seek to take the situation offline via phone or, when practical, in person. There's a better chance for resolution by discussing the issue away from social media.

Resolve the Issue and Follow Up

Address the problem as soon as possible, but don't stop there. "Follow up to make sure you've fully met the customer's needs," advises digital media strategist Muhammad Abdullah. "A personal approach lets customers know you value their opinion and put their needs first." If possible, touch base with the customer within 48 hours following the resolution to make sure all is well. If issues remain, make sure the commenter understands that your company will continue to look for alternate solutions

Invite the Customer to Post a Follow-Up Message

Assuming you can engineer a successful resolution to his or her complaint, ask the commenter to post a follow-up message on their social media networks alerting others that your business has taken care of the complaint. You may be surprised by how many formerly angry commenters will be happy to comply with this request.

After the situation has been resolved, you may be tempted to delete the negative social media comments. Generally speaking, this isn't a good idea. This only suggests that you're attempting to whitewash the issue or otherwise ignore it. When it comes to customer service on social media, it’s better to let people see how you handled the situation with professionalism and respect


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This website contains articles posted for informational and educational value. Paychex is not responsible for information contained within any of these materials. Any opinions expressed within materials are not necessarily the opinion of, or supported by, Paychex. The information in these materials should not be considered legal or accounting advice, and it should not substitute for legal, accounting, and other professional advice where the facts and circumstances warrant.

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