Everyone experiences a variety of negative comments online, whether it is on a social media site, blog, review site etc. The effect of the comment depends on how you choose to respond to it. Ragan.com has a few articles that explain the importance of how to answer a comment or question made online and the proper way to do so. Here is an article from Ragan about 5 Ways to Handle Negative Facebook Comments. Now just because this article is about Facebook, does not mean that the points do not apply to any other medium that allows comments. The content is still very relevant to any forum online.
When a negative comment is made about your organization or company, take a deep breath and think about how you are going to answer. Message them personally and apologize for the inconvenience and ask for an explanation of what their complaint is. Offer them something that they will be able to redeem such as a coupon or gift card and encourage them to come back. Fix the problem they had - for instance, if it is a waiter/waitress issue, have a conversation with the whole wait staff. Tell them the problem that a customer had and ask all employees to pay closer attention to their customers and the service they are providing. This way, when the customer comes back, they will have a different and better experience.
Here are some quick points to remember when responding to a negative comment:
- Take a deep breath. No comment is worth getting angry over. Just answer them and help to the best of your ability.
- Never, EVER delete a comment or ask for it to be deleted. A negative comment is better than a deleted one. Once it is deleted, the commentor could get upset and post it in more than one place.
- After you have personally contacted that person, go to the forum where the comment was made and publicly apologize and explain how dedicated you are to ensuring that all customers have a great experience every time they come back.
- If they haven't responded, still make a comment on the forum apologizing.
- You want to make sure that customers can see that you are willing to fix any problem they have had in a timely manner.