How to Handle Negative Comments About You and Your Business
It's happened. You knew it would. Somebody said something bad about you and your business. Maybe it's true. Maybe it's not. Maybe it's a little bit of truth taken grossly out of context. No matter the case, how you handle negative comments can determine how much (or how little) business you will lose because of the comment.
Where Did the Negative Comment Appear?
Building a successful website is hard work and you do not want to see it destroyed by a disgruntled customer. The effect the negative comment has on your business depends greatly on where the comment appeared and how many of your potential customers are likely to be influenced by the comment.
For example, if the negative comment was just a random tweet, you probably don't need to worry. Tweets quickly fade away, and even viral tweets are usually forgotten in a week or two.
But if your business depends upon certified feedback, like a roomshare on AirBnB or a Verified Purchase on Amazon when you have only a few other reviews, negative feedback can be devastating.
So think for yourself: how much effect will this comment have on your long-term business? If the answer is "hardly any lost business," then the only thing you need to do to handle negative feedback is try to avoid repeating the situation which led to the negative feedback.
How to Handle Negative Comments on Facebook
If the negative Facebook comment is on your own wall or page then you can easily delete the comment. You can also post a lot of updates on your page to make the comment move into nowhere land.
If the comment is on someone else's Facebook page then the only option is to ask the page owner to remove it, report it to Facebook for defamation, or simple ignore it.
See the screenshot below. A Pharmacy decided to promote McDonald's and got slammed for it. They stood up, did not delete the comments, and basically came out unscathed.
They responded with this statement. See more details here.
Shoppers Drug Mart is committed to delivering value through our promotional events, so we've partnered with Canada's top businesses to provide you with a range of offers. Your comments help us better understand what you value. The McDonald's gift card promotion may not be the right fit for you, but we hope you'll conti...nue to tell us what you want (or don't want), so we can give you what you need in the future.
How to Handle Negative Comments on Your Blog
Handling negative comments on your own blog is easy: just do not publish them. But remember that if you do not give people their say they will probably go somewhere more public to spread the word.
I personally like to publish people's comments and respond to them with something witty and intelligent if possible.
How to Handle Negative Comments on Other People's Blogs
This is where you have to be careful because you have no control over the comment moderation process. This means that any harmful comments can be published and awaiting your response, publicly.
I find that the bigger the audience the worse the comments become. For example, I wrote a post called Google Is Not God and boy, did I get some mixed feedback from that! Here is a quote from an article I wrote sharing some ultimate blogging tips about how to blog:
There was one problem here. When Yahoo small business republished the article it was all out of whack! I really think they should take more care with their formatting. If they had, people might have understood the article a bit better.
If You Need To Respond To Negative Feedback
Most customers respect people who "keep their cool." So don't yell or attack the person who made the negative comment. If you need to respond, state the facts of the case without placing any blame on the other person (even if it was their fault).
Let's look at a fictional example. Someone bought something from you on eBay and they claim they never received the product even though you have delivery confirmation.
Their nasty negative comment says something like:
John Doe stole my money! He never shipped the item and he refuses to give me a refund.
Your considerate reply might say:
Item shipped on 16 July 2013. Delivery confirmed July 18th. No eBay dispute filed because item was delivered successfully.
If you're at fault, I highly recommend that you make an apology and amends (such as refunding any money). For example, if you discover you mailed the fictional eBay package to the wrong address, your feedback might say:
My fault; shipped to wrong address. Full refund issued, plus I sent a Brownies.com delivery with apology note. I'm so sorry.
Responding to Blogs And Campaigns
Sometimes people won't just stop with a negative comment-they'll start a blog or a campaign to convince other people you're horrible. If someone gets out of hand and they start spreading lies, you may need to consider a lawsuit for slander, libel, or defamation of character.
A better strategy, one which requires putting your ego aside, is to use the negative publicity to your advantage. For example, you can ask your happy customers to respond to the feedback for you:
Steve Row has started a blog claiming to reveal how bad my company is. How about everyone reading this write a post on their blog with a short description of their experience using my company-good or bad-and send both Steve and me a linkback (or a tweet)?
If you generally make your customers happy, they'll often eagerly leap to defend your honor in public, giving you lots of great testimonials you can use for years to come.
Follow Mitz Pantic on Twitter