When you see a negative comment on your social networks, your first reflex might be to delete or hide it. The temptation is even greater when the comment attacks your brand’s reputation or identity.
Negative comments are inevitable. More than 90% of brands will receive them, and more than 62% of customers will end their relationship with a brand based on negative comments they saw on social media. That being said, there are best practices to follow to answer these comments in a professional manner. In the end, every brand wants to provide great customer service and turn this unfortunate situation to your advantage.
With social media, happy and unhappy consumers are communicating directly (and publicly!) with companies. This new way of communicating shows the importance of fully integrating social media in your customer service policy. To do so effectively, a few rules are to be followed.
Create a Community Management Playbook
Creating a community management playbook or guide will help maintain consistent communication on all your platforms. Setting up this tool will be particularly useful if several team members are answering comments on your social media pages.
In this guide you should find:
1. Your brand’s identity: What makes you different from your competitors, what are your values, your brand pillars, etc…
2. Good practices and things to avoid when answering questions or comments: For example, some brands will avoid using emojis or gifs in their answers.
3. Your tone: You can choose a tone that is formal, polite, friendly, funny, etc. Of course, your tone should fit with your brand’s image and your audience. Note: Your tone might vary from platform to platform.
4. Frequently Asked Questions: You might receive the same questions over and over again or you may want to anticipate certain questions. We like to divide this section into three parts:
- Frequently asked questions
- Your answer (make sure to leave placeholders to personalize your message)
- The procedure to follow if this question is asked (any specific action should be taken? Who can you ask if you need more details?)
The Different Types of Negative Comments
There are several types of negative comments. Some are directly offensive, while others are relevant to your service or product. If hiding or deleting some comments is necessary, others will need a response.
We recommend that you delete or hide comments that are directly offensive, insulting, or violent. To limit these harmful comments, Facebook allows brands to set up a “Profanity Filter”. With this feature, comments containing certain words will be automatically filtered out. This setting has several levels of intensity. Sadly, most social media platforms do not offer a similar feature.
Every comment that relates to a negative experience with your product or service should be answered. In order to respond adequately to these types of comments, stay polite, professional, and empathic. Always try to be in “solution” mode. If a customer isn’t satisfied, offer a refund or try to find a creative solution to turn the situation around (a discount on a future purchase, an exchange, offer another product that meets the customer’s needs, etc.).
Moreover, avoid asking the user to contact you by email or by phone to resolve their issue. Social media users generally expect an answer directly in the platform of their choice and do not want to try a new communication tool. You can choose to reply as a comment and then continue the conversation in a private message (Messenger) to respect confidentiality.
Stay Connected and Attentive
In order to effectively follow up with your customers on social media and avoid situations where negative comments accumulate, it is necessary to set up the right tools.
There are community management tools that will regroup every comment, share, or message sent by customers on your social media. Hootsuite and Sprout Social are widely used by brands to facilitate community management. They even allow brands to assign comments to certain team members or departments.
Other tools allow you to know where your brand is mentioned on the Web and facilitate on-going monitoring. The Mention tool, for example, allows brands to manage their online presence by identifying important conversations.
Things to Avoid for Successful Community Management
Regardless of your editorial line, certain practices should be avoided at all costs.
Obviously, responding aggressively (or passive-aggressively!) to a comment is never the right answer. This type of reaction will be detrimental to your brand image and have very negative repercussions.
In our opinion, leaving a comment unanswered is a no go (except if it’s irrelevant, violent or disgraceful). When a customer shares positive feedback, entertain the conversation to create a stronger bond between your brand and your customers. And, as mentioned previously, negative feedback should be seen as an opportunity to fix a problematic situation or improve your product or service.
Again, be extra attentive to negative feedback or comments from your customers. A customer will be more vocal about their negative experience than their positive experience. This bad publicity will impact your brand’s success, therefore, it should be handled in a timely manner.
Good Examples of Answers to Negative Comments on Social Media
|When my product got delivered, it was already broken. I do not recommend this product.||Hi [client name]!|
We’re sorry to hear that! Please send us your confirmation number in a private message along with a picture of the product and we will exchange or refund it as soon as possible.
Have a nice day!
|I have a problem with my product and no one answers my calls when I contact the company…||Hi [client name]! We are sincerely sorry for your experience with one of our products. Please provide your phone number, and we will be happy to contact you shortly. We look forward to hearing from you!|
|The website bugs a lot, I can’t place my order.||Hi [client name]! |
We’re sorry to hear that! We’ll be happy to help you make your order online or by phone. An agent will contact you by private message in a few minutes. Have a nice day!
|I had a very bad in-store experience. I won’t go back there again.||Hi [client name]! |
Providing quality customer service is essential for us. We’re sorry to hear that your in-store experience wasn’t up to our standards. Please send us a private message with a detailed explanation of your experience. It will allow us to address this situation with the store right away. Thank you and have a nice day!
|I’ve been trying to order a product for weeks and it’s still out of stock! It’s frustrating!||We are extremely grateful that the [product name] is very popular and sold out quicker than we were expecting! We are working very hard in order to meet this high demand and are looking forward to the product being available again. We’ll keep you posted on our social media, stay tuned! In the meantime, [other product] might be a good alternative. What do you think? Have a nice day :)|
|Your products are far too expensive!||Hi [client name]!|
Thank you for your feedback. Our products are [explain why your product is different from the competition and what explains its price (ex. made in Canada, eco-friendly, etc.)], which explains their price. That being said, I suggest taking a look at our social media pages from time to time, we often share discounts and promotions! Have a nice day!
|It’s been over a week since I placed my online order and it’s still not delivered! ||Hi [client name]! |
Thanks for placing an order on our site! We understand that you must be very eager to receive your package (we would be too!). Please send us your confirmation number in private, and one of our agents will follow up with you. Have a nice day!
Learn more about managing your clients’ online reviews and feedback in this article: Why Invest in an Online Review Management Strategy?
Need help managing your social media platforms? Our social media experts are here to help. Get a proposal here.
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