8 Ways to Love Your On-Line Negative Feedback

One of the biggest challenges for any social business is learning how to react to (hopefully rare) negative feedback in social comments.

Many businesses even exclude themselves from on-line conversations because they fear negative feedback so much. Others receive daily plaudits from satisfied customers only to lie awake at night thinking about an isolated on-line rant.

The classic response is to ‘take it off line’. But that isn’t always something you can control.

So here are eight ideas you can control.

1. Take a Balanced View of Negative Feedback.

Think about how you respond when you see negative feedback about other businesses. If you see a negative comment do you take it as fact? Or do you think a little more deeply about the keyboard warrior’s skewed point of view? Customers are smart. We are smart. Thanks to a new world of abundant information, we are smarter and better-informed than ever before. And not to be underestimated.

The chances of us taking people’s opinions at face value are less than ever.

We don’t trust corporate messages or politicians. And in the same way, we don’t take gushing tributes at face value (“they must be related to the owner”). And we don’t take unreasonably emotional complaints at face value either (“Sounds like a competitor doing a job on them.”)

2. Vent Your Spleen. Then Delete Without Posting.

You’re angry right? In the right time and place anger can be a really powerful emotion to command attention. Here’s an example of  Trip Advisor response. (You can click on the image to read the article).

Negative Feedback

But use it wisely! Write the response you’d really love to send. Draw from the gutter of negative human emotions.

Then, when you’ve got it out of your system, delete it and draft a prompt, balanced and genuine response.

3. Welcome the Transparency.

The internet is awash with ill-advised naive feedback and comment scams that massively backfire when you patronise your community.

Every negative comment publicly demonstrates your business confidence. (What?!) It actually shows the world you are open to all feedback about your business – good and bad. And here’s the thing: each negative comment actually increases the credibility of the positive comments.

A page of 100 5 star reviews (nice though that would be) is just too unbelievable. It just doesn’t happen.

No life ever-lived received constant unconditional positive feedback. (Imagine the precocious child from hell that approach would nurture!) We all need balance.

4. Humanise Your Brand to Win Friends and Influence.

It’s time to show what makes you tick! You only get to really know people when the s**t hits the fan. We begin to know them personally from the way they respond. Although a negative comment is far from a full-on crisis, I know of several PR agencies (no, not me) who even engineer crisis situations to raise interest in the conversation. Then they demonstrate their smart authentic ‘in the moment’ human solution. And win new friends because of it.

Know, like and trust is scaled in real time human engagement. And know, like and trust (you know this already) is the reason people buy from you.

It’s not, and never will be, about carefully-constructed sugar-coated on-brand messages.


5. Less is More.

As with any brilliant communication (and unlike this post) get to the point. In a cluttered world of abundant information, brevity is a massive opportunity to influence. You want just enough information to demonstrate genuine concern; but, not too little to appear flippant or dismissive.

You might feel you have a million reasons to justify your point of view. (“And another thing!”), but stick to the 2-3 strongest points with the greatest power to resolve the issue in everyone’s best interest.

6. Welcome the Opportunity.

Businesses pay millions on market research to discover what customers really think about their brand or business. Even the shrewdest market researcher will concede that a percentage of people will always say one thing but mean another. Now, thanks to the internet and social media, you have 100% unadulterated opinions delivered straight to your in box!

So, when Captain Cock Up pays a call, pull him up a chair and make him a brew, and contribute to a mutually-inspirational conversation!

7. Give Up the Battle. But, Win the War.

So, it turns out that the customer is right – and you are wrong. Is it time to take it on the chin? Is it time to move the conversation away from the blame and focus on an outstanding solution? Why not use feedback to improve your product or service? Get over yourself. Then, if genuine customer feedback does improve the service or product share the story.

The most compelling stories in life often arise
from bad situations and how they were resolved.

Narrate what happened from the moment the issue arose to the implementation of your perfect solution. Acknowledge the feedback and thank the customer who raised the issue personally. Demonstrate the collaborative approach. Celebrate how you serve your community of valued customers and use the authentic stories to build influence.


8. Become a Better Complainer Yourself.

Use your experience to become a smarter complainer yourself. I have recent experience of a businessman who ranted about a business who he had hoped to one day become a supplier to. Well, that’s not going to happen. Choose your battles. And demonstrate the best of your own constructive communication skills when you do.
Other points of view here:

Richard Glynn will help you stand out, build influence and become easier to buy from.
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