17 Tips to Help You Handle Online Complaints & Negative Reviews

Tips for dealing with online complaints & negative reviews

No matter how well you run your business, chances are at some point you’ll have to deal with online complaints, upset customers, or negative social media comments. How well you handle these situations can impact your online reputation and sometimes even mean the difference between keeping or losing a customer. So here’s a round up of 17 tips for dealing with angry customers, negative reviews, social media complaints, and negative tweets, along with links to the full articles so you can read more.

Dealing with Customer Complaints

1. Address a Complaint Immediately

Whether you’re dealing with negativity in person, over the phone, or online, try to identify and address the problem as quickly as you can. A customer-first mindset in addressing complaints will help quickly fix issues once they’re brought to your attention, plus a timely response can help the situation from escalating and causing further problems.

2. Don’t Start an Argument

It doesn’t matter if a customer’s complaint is legitimate or not; the key is to listen with an open mind. Don’t default into excuses, blaming, or defensiveness; that will only make the situation worse. Get all the information and try to understand their side of the story. Often, people just want to know that their concerns are being heard as much as they want to reach a resolution.

3. Address the Root Cause of the Issue

Determining and fixing the root of a complaint, such as poor service, defective merchandise, or a rude employee, not only helps you keep a customer, it can save you from similar complaints in the future.

4. Deliver Great Customer Service – Always

Delivering excellent service should always be a top priority, even when customers are upset or complaining. Responding professionally and calmly to customer complaints not only makes them appreciate the great service you provide, it can also help drive positive reviews and word of mouth.

Read the full article here.

Responding to Negative Online Reviews

5. Relax, It Happens to the Best of Us

Every company deals with negative reviews online. But remember, for every unhappy customer, you have happy customers who help keep your business going.

6. Choose Whether or Not to Respond Publicly

Some negative reviews are not legitimate complaints, but some are. When you run across fishy looking complaints rife with odd wording or suspicious links, these may be internet “bots” that are trying to build links back to their sites. But, many negative reviews contain authentic customer complaints. You’ll need to decide whether to respond publicly on a case-by-case basis. You may want to make an initial response to a customer complaint on the site of origin (when you can) to establish content and try to move the complaint resolution process offline through telephone, email, or your formal customer support system.

7. Cool Down Before Responding

Never respond in anger to a negative review. It not only makes you look unprofessional, it can stir up even more negativity. When you choose to respond to a negative review, make sure you’re cool, calm, and collected before you write anything.

8. Forge Ahead & Focus on the Positive

Negative reviews are simply a reality for businesses today. In very few cases can you get a negative review deleted from a review site. Instead, work on resolving issues with clients and work to promote the positive aspects of your business across the web. For example, you can suggest to happy customers that they leave you reviews on these sites.

Download our free ebook: Your Guide to Google My Business here to learn helpful tips for responding to reviews on your Google listing.

Addressing Social Media Complaints

9. Address Social Media Comments Quickly

Consumers who leave comments on your social media pages expect to receive a prompt reply. Even if you can’t provide an immediate resolution to a customer issue when they post a complaint on social media, acknowledge their comment by responding back to them. Then work to get in contact with them to formally handle their issue offline or in private communication mode (such as through a direct message on Facebook or Twitter).

10. Don’t Play the Blame Game

Justifying poor service or a bad business practice does nothing to help you or your customer. It’s also not a good idea to publicly attack a negative reviewer online. There are countless stories of business owners getting ugly in the face of a negative review and ending up facing greater criticism and outrage. Instead, post an authentic, balanced response, even if you’re not in the wrong.

11. Evaluate Your Online Reputation & Business Practices

As you monitor and respond to negative reviews and complaints online, it’s important to identify problems that you didn’t know existed within your business and address them. Customers are very likely to share negative experiences online, so make sure you know what they are saying and do what you can to fix it.

12. Know How to Deal with Trolls & Ranters

Most businesses will face “trolls” online — those people whose goal it is to stir up negativity and complaints. It’s important not to feed their negativity by engaging in futile arguments. But an actual customer who serially complains about you online might just need to be heard. Take the time to reach out to them privately in a professional manner and do your best to right any wrong that has occurred.

Read the full article here.

Responding to Negative Tweets

13. Monitor Your Twitter Account

Given how easy it is for a user to send out a negative tweet about your business, it’s important that you monitor what’s being said about you on Twitter. This enables you to respond quickly to Twitter complaints and keep the issue from escalating further.

14. Take a Twitter Complaint Offline if Necessary

Trying to resolve a customer’s complaint can be difficult given Twitter’s limited character count. It’s o.k. to respond publicly to ask the user to follow your Twitter account so you can send a private message (DM) via the site. This enables you to take the conversation out of the public eye and communicate more directly.

15. Provide Your Email Address or Phone Number

If a user is unresponsive to your request to make the conversation private, you can provide them with a public phone number and email address where you can be reached (just be aware this information will be public for all to see, so select the information you share here wisely).

16. Report Harassment to Twitter

While Twitter users are free to post negative content or complaints, they can be reported if their tweets become abusive. If you feel you’re being harassed, report the user(s) to Twitter.

17. Address the Facts of the Issue & Keep Cool

One person’s complaint on Twitter can quickly spark more negativity through retweets and replies. If your company gets caught in a Twitter firestorm, refrain from defensive remarks, arguments, or negativity. Instead, calmly focus on any legitimate customer service issues with the person who originally complained, and then work to identify other issues and address them as well.

Read the full article here.

While no business likes to receive customer complaints online or offline, dealing with negative reviews, social media comments, and complaints is something every business needs to be equipped to do. These tips can help you you manage the times when you face these situations.

How have you dealt with complaints or negative reviews in the past? Let us know with a comment below.

Amy Neeley

Amy enjoys helping small- and medium-size businesses (SMBs) navigate the online marketing world with tips, trends, and best practices they can use. She has written for Fortune 100 companies, non-profits, and SMBs, and her articles have been featured on sites like Yahoo! Small Business Advisor, MarketingProfs.com, and other industry publications. Amy can often be found walking her dogs, Lola and Marlo, and keeping up with the news via Twitter.

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