There’s no avoiding negative comments online. That’s just the reality of operating in the digital space. While social media can be particularly toxic for individuals who suffer abuse and hate, brands are not immune to online negativity. Whether warranted or unwarranted, people have an opinion and the internet makes it easy for them to express them.
Preserving brand equity online can be challenging if there’s an onslaught of negative comments regarding the brand’s products and services. It can snowball rather quickly since the vast majority of customers look for reviews online before they decide to open their wallets. If the brand doesn’t nip the problem in the bud, it risks ruining its reputation for good.
That’s one of the reasons why it’s so important for brands to quite literally be on their toes when it comes to online reputation management. This will prevent the far-reaching fallout from unwarranted negativity and allow the brand to respond to justified criticism from customers and make amends where necessary while maintaining control of the narrative.
Be proactive in responding to negative comments
This too shall pass, is what a wise sage would say, but that wouldn’t apply to negative comments online. It’s easy to operate under the assumption that there won’t be an impact of such comments and that the best course of action would just be to bury your head in the sand and wait for time to work its magic.
Ignoring negative comments is perhaps the worst thing a brand can do when it comes to online reputation management. It gives the impression that the brand doesn’t care what customers think about it. This will cause a trust deficit and prevent new potential customers from purchasing.
Whether a comment is neutral, positive, or negative, the goal should always be to respond to every one of them. This proactive approach would signify that the brand takes customers’ feedback seriously and is willing to make amends where necessary.
Keeping on top of all comments is also a great way to understand the pulse of the customer. Understand the customer sentiment about your brand and the content you’re sharing to make informed decisions about the way ahead.
Always provide a custom and thoughtful response
If your brand posts the same response to every comment that it receives, whether good or bad, it shows that not much thought has gone behind the exercise and that it’s merely being done to tick a box. This shouldn’t be the approach to online reputation management.
Remember, each customer will likely have a different reason for not being happy with the brand. They often feel personally let down by the product or service they’ve spent money on. It’s important to make them feel heard and the best way to do that is to provide a custom response that appears thoughtful.
It should be apparent that the people responsible for responding to comments online have taken a moment to understand the issue at hand and are genuinely interested in making amends. Such thoughtful customer service significantly increases the chances of bringing back even the most disappointed of customers.
Resolve the dispute out of the spotlight
It’s in the brand’s best interests to deal with customers who have left a negative comment delicately. They already feel wronged and it’s important to quickly address their concerns to prevent them from leaving similar comments across other online channels.
Once you’ve made the initial contact, take the conversation out of the spotlight. The customer will likely have much more to say, and it wouldn’t be nice for all of their grievances with the brand to be posted publicly across your social media pages.
Offer a compassionate response to show that the brand cares and is willing to make things right for them and then reach out through direct messages to understand the dispute in greater detail. Any further steps may then be taken to satisfy the customer.
Never delete comments without resolving the issue
What do you think an angry customer would do when they find that their comment has been deleted without any response from the brand? They’ll only get angrier and leave multiple negative comments across all online channels just to make sure that their voice is heard.
Deleting negative comments without resolving the issue is a recipe for disaster. The customer will only seek to amplify their grievances, which will attract more attention to an issue that would have been resolved quickly and amicably.
Even though it might seem like a good option to delete the comments and hope that the customer doesn’t take note, it’s not the right thing to do. Once the issue has been resolved, and the customer is satisfied with the same, perhaps ask them to amend their original review so that others can also see how the brand provides proactive customer service.
Leverage good customer service for more impact
If the issue is resolved, always ask the customer for their feedback, particularly about how they feel you could do better. Their feedback will be instrumental in helping you further improve the reputation of your brand online.
Customers will feel happy when their concerns are addressed and things have been made right for them. This will provide them with the confidence to continue being a loyal customer. They’re also likely to tell people in their circle about the positive customer experience they had dealing with the brand.
Thus good customer service stemming from a negative online review can be leveraged to create more impact through the power of word of mouth.
A little empathy and compassion go a long way
Dealing with negative comments online is more of an art than a science. Simply by showing a little empathy and compassion for customers who feel that they’ve been wronged, the brand can do wonders for its online image while also ensuring that customers feel heard.
Effective engagement is crucial for creating a loyal customer base that sticks with the brand and ultimately becomes an advocate for it.