The social web is a pretty cool thing. Online, we can meet, communicate, and share with like-minded people all over the world. For businesses, this can equate to an expanded range of influence and more customers .. and, of course, the increased profits that come along with all that new clientele.
But with a larger audience comes a sad, but true, fact of online life: you’re probably going to upset someone. Whether justified or not, your online business will more than likely be the subject of negative feedback from time to time. The question is: how do you handle negative feedback in a manner that allows you to respond to the complaint while saving face?
Why the Attack, & How to Respond?
The first thing you need to do is determine the source of the complaint. Is it from a genuine customer unhappy with the service she received, a potential customer you lost because of a problem with your site, a competitor looking to mar your online reputation by trolling your blog?
Depending on the source of the feedback, your response will differ. The general rule of thumb: take the high road.
- First and foremost, be polite. No matter what names the other person called your mom or how inaccurate his claim may be, becoming defensive and returning insults is never the appropriate response. All this does is turn off other customers - the ones you actually want staying your customers. Keep it short, sweet, honest, and nice!
- Be grateful. Thank the other person for his feedback, even if you don’t plan on acting on it. If it’s a simple suggestion on improving your products or services, let the other party know you will take the advice into consideration. In an ever-expanding digital world, people like to know that businesses see them as individuals and not just another notch on their online belt, so a personalized response may be all you need to make amends.
- Remedy the situation. If you screwed up someone’s order, sent a faulty item, or didn’t provide optimum services, make it up to the customer. Offering a sincere written apology and a tangible one (e.g. replacement item free of charge, partial refund, re-do of the botched service, etc.) can go a long way in helping to retain the unhappy customer and not scare away potential ones. Consider it your virtual bouquet of red roses and box of chocolates.
- Ignore the spam comments. A spammy, trolling comment is only there to try to incite an argument with you. You will undoubtedly feel angry or offended by spam on your blog or social profile, but don’t fight back. If possible, remove the comment altogether.
What about you? How does your business respond to negative feedback online?