By Carrie Hopkins

Not every company can get away with roasting their online haters like Wendy’s, but its still very important to stay engaged with your brand’s online chatter. Reviews aren’t just for your website anymore. The ability of your customers to spread opinions has transformed in this digital age and you must be ready. Reviews can now come in the form of a sassy tweet, a full-blown play-by-play on Facebook, or through official and verified on platforms like G2 Crowd or Amazon reviews. Keeping an eye on your brand's reputation online, in addition to social listening, has become an art form and there are plenty of tools out there to help you.

Some companies have entire teams dedicated to social listening, but it’s possible for a team of any size to monitor what your customers are saying with tools like TrackMaven and Sprout Social. You don’t have to respond to every negative comment out there, but staying engaged shows your customers you are listening and that their opinion matters to you.

Here are five tips on how to respond to negative reviews of your product or service:

 

1. Be Timely

If a customer takes the time to go online and share their opinion, they have fairly strong feelings about their experience with your product or service. Social media allows them to share their opinion at lightning speed from anywhere. One way to help defuse anger is through a timely response. Responding to your customers quickly shows that you care and are more than a product. They want to be heard, so show them you’re listening.

 

2. Be Sincere, but Show Your Personality

While you may not always agree with your customer’s opinion, you still need to own it. Show sincerity in your response and be clear that you understand them and their feelings toward your product. You are the person behind the product so don’t be afraid to show that. If your brand lends itself to some light hearted banter or a funny response, channel your inner Chrissy Teigen and go for it!

 

3. Keep It Short

There’s no need to get into an in-depth conversation with your reply, regardless of how long the complaint is. A short and sweet response will suffice and hopefully not encourage the customer to continue in an online argument. Again, this is where sincerity is important.

 

4. Offer a Solution

You want to acknowledge that you’ve heard and understand their complaint, but is there something more you can do? Offering a solution doesn’t have to mean giving them something for free. It can be as simple as pointing them in the direction of another product or a different way to use the one they have. Did they complain about price? Tell them about upcoming offers you have or ways to save with your company.

What really makes your customers tick? Find out with: The Psychology of Inbound  Marketing

 

5. Realize that You Can’t (and Won’t) Please Everyone

It’s not always easy to ignore an unhappy customer, but sometimes it’s the right thing to do. If it seems that the conversation with the customer is getting out of hand, kindly suggest to continue speaking with them offline. This may be a good time to bring in a customer service rep that is trained to handle tough situations. However, you may have to concede that you just can’t please everyone and that’s okay.

 

6. Use Negative Reviews to Your Advantage

Negative reviews may not seem like a good thing at first, but you can leverage them! They provide the perfect opportunity to record and analyze your customer’s pain points. No need to research—they are telling you firsthand. Look for trends and use them to tweak your personas and messaging.

Social listening can help you stay in touch with your customers. Their needs are constantly changing and you should be, too! Look at negative reviews as an opportunity to improve and connect with your customer base.

 

Photo by Bruce Mars from Pexels

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Carrie Hopkins

About the author

Carrie Hopkins Carrie Hopkins is a Nashville based strategist for SmartBug Media. She comes with ten years of B2C marketing and has a passion for lead generation. She earned her bachelor's degree from University of Tennessee and MBA from Trevecca Nazarene University. Read more articles by Carrie Hopkins.