Don't Feed the Trolls: How to Respond to Negative Criticism
August 22, 2021
People get angry online, there are no two ways about it. But how do you handle online trolls without escalating situations?
This negative criticism can be hugely impactful for your business. More than half of people trust online reviews as much as they do recommendations from people in real life.
Let's go through the right way to deal with negative criticism for your business.
Find Out What People Are Saying
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First, you'll need to actually know what people are saying. There may not actually be any negative feedback to respond to!
Check who tags your business on various social media platforms, and make sure that you have someone regularly monitoring your hashtags, comments, and messages. This will help you figure out if you have a troll problem, or if there's a legitimate issue in your business that may need to be corrected.
To make your life easier, you can create a reputation management system to help you track different keywords and monitor news alerts whenever possible.
Practice Good Customer Service
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Ultimately, the main principles of good customer service apply to responding to negative criticism online. If someone has a legitimate issue, you should respond to them promptly and make sure that they have venues to reach out with you specifically.
If they're publicly posting on Twitter, apologize for the inconvenience and direct them to DM you so that you can resolve their issues quickly. This can help generate goodwill with a wider client base.
Keep Calm When Discussing The Matter
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It's important to never lash out at negative criticism online. This will almost always draw more negative criticism, and could even make you a joke in the news. You don't want to go viral for saying something stupid, after all.
Don't try and accuse the customer of wrongdoing, or try and take action against them.
Even if you don't believe you or your company did anything wrong, you still need to give the customer room to vent and the ability to get their feelings out, just like you would in your day-to-day relationships. Acknowledge their feelings, and give them ample opportunities to tell you what the problem was.
Take Responsibility for Any Problems
It's possible that you did make a mistake or a misstep, and that the negative feedback is warranted. You may have made an error with a customer's order, for example, and not gotten back to them promptly. Or, you may have made a post on social media that was unwittingly offensive or problematic.
In these cases, it's important to take responsibility for your actions. In the case of a problem that affects a large group of people, like a social media post or an information leak, you can start off with a good old Notes App apology or record a video to address the issue.
But, you'll also need to take steps to rectify the situation. Provide restitution when possible or necessary. Refund their orders, if there was a problem with their order, and give gift cards or vouchers whenever possible.
Always Respond To Negative Criticism
Except for in some limited cases, it's always important to respond to negative criticism online. Acknowledgment is an important part of helping people feel heard and decreasing their negativity towards yourself as an individual or your business!
If there's an explanation for whatever triggered their negative feedback, always provide it. Some of the explanations for different negative feedback could include:
- Miscommunications with shipping or purchasing
- Bugs with online platforms, such as websites
- Problematic hiring practices
- Cancellations or rescheduling that inconvenience a customer
- Products ordered were defective in some way
- Products were missing from an order
- A negative experience with an employee or individual over the phone or in person
- Offensive or problematic social media posts
- Factual issues or misleading communications
- A decline in product or service quality
Of course, you should not be producing any private information or divulging anything to other customers. If necessary, you can keep explanations vague.
Ignore The Spam
Some negative criticism isn't just trolling, it's automated spam or could even be a targeted campaign by a particular cause. In those cases, it's best to report these comments to the social media site so that they can be removed.
Of course, it can sometimes be a challenge to tell the difference between legitimate criticism and spam. So, go through the responses you get with a close eye, and ensure you're not throwing out legitimate criticism along with random bots.
Give Them Other Avenues
If someone's negative feedback is warranted, you may want to redirect them to a phone number, email address, or in-person meeting rather than social media.
This will help them get a more personalized experience, and will keep their negative feedback and criticism off the internet. Getting the criticism offline is a great way to prevent a pile-on of negative feedback from other customers.
If there's a manager or supervisor available, that could be a great person to speak to people with accurate negative feedback one-on-one.
However, don't ever ask someone providing negative feedback to take down their negative criticism. That will only inflame the situation and make them even angrier.
Start Fighting Negative Criticism Today
Clearly, there are right ways and wrong ways to respond to negative criticism online. So, stick to the right path and you'll be sure to get a positive response in return.
Do you need help getting started improving your online reputation? Check out our online reputation services today.