First things first: there is no sugar coating around this topic – it will happen to you, in some shape or form… I’m talking about negative feedback on Social Media.
In the second we expose ourselves to a large audience, we also expose ourselves to possible negative feedback as it is impossible to keep everyone happy.
There can be many reasons for negative feedback – sometimes just for the sake of giving negative feedback without an actual matter.
So the question is – how to handle it if it happens?
1. Create a Process
The easiest way to handle negative feedback is by having a process and clarity around who is managing it. If it is not just you but you have a department of various specialists in your organisation, make sure everyone knows the types of complaints they look after and also how they will handle it
If it is just you, it obviously is easier.
Keep in mind:
Your primary goal needs to be addressing the problem that caused the complaint instead of the complaint itself.
To make it easier and to give you more piece of mind, create a little 'cheat sheet'. Think of any possible scenarios and possibilities that could happen and define answers for it so it doesn't always take you by surprise and you stumble over something that could get you in more troubles. Having consistency in your replies also gives you more credibility and clarity for your audience.
2. Categorise the Type of Feedback
Once the feedback comes in, it’s important to categorise what type of feedback you’re receiving. Not all negative feedback is the same and it also makes a difference on how you respond to it.
Here are some of the categories:
- Pressing: This type of feedback is simply a heads-up of a problem you might have to act on immediately.
- Constructive: This type of feedback is usually coming from a good place.
An example of constructive feedback would be, “This post is a little confusing – those two recommendations seemed very similar.” Constructive feedback gives you an opportunity to modify certain things in the future.
- Disgruntled: Some people are grump for the sake of being grump and hide behind the screen to get nasty, whether it is important to them or not.
The best thing to do in this instance is to say ‘I’m sorry you feel this way’ and move on.
3. Communicate back
Social Media is taking part in a conversation that already happens, so you cannot not respond back to feedback directly to you. Inactivity on your part will appear as though you’re trying to ignore the issue or seem to be unconcerned with it.
Especially when the feedback was both, pressing and constructive and you should also make an effort to respond to 90% of disgruntled feedback.
Apologizing, offering up a solution, or even just offering up the opportunity to talk about this particular scenario to give the feeling of being heard can go a long way.
However, sometimes people can be unreasonable and aggressive and especially when it is not justified, I’d opt out of continuing a conversation. There’s a huge difference between negative feedback and trolling.
4. Change Opinions
If negative feedback handled well, it can be the starting point of a great relationship as every interaction is an opportunity and keep in mind: if this one person feels like that and has taken the time to give you feedback, chances are there are more who think the same but haven’t bothered telling you. The better you handle a situation, the more respect you gain.
Often people just want to be heard and the feeling that they are taken seriously.
Giving them the chance to vent, apologising for the inconvenience as you understand the frustration if something doesn’t work and offering up a solution that can make a change (if need be) can change a negative customer into an advocate for you and your Brand.
5. Chance to discuss
Whether it’s negative feedback, questions or general discussion, it’s always important to give your audience the opportunity to respond first.
After all, whatever you are doing, you are creating a community around your service – not a personal messaging service.
Don’t let too much time past, but there’s no harm of giving a situation the chance to work itself it out (as long as it is not dreadfully long or damaging).
6. Close the public conversation and contact privately
If a conversation starts to spiral, don’t be afraid to shoot a DM instead of letting it drag on in everyone’s feeds.
Some things are best handled behind closed doors but don’t take it offline straight away as again – Social Media is taking part in a conversation and it can work against you if you ‘hide’ behind it and don’t confront it at all.
7. Choose Positivity and move on
Don’t lose sleep over this stuff, people.
Social media is destination #1 for negative feedback and complaints, so there is no point to take it too much to heart. Do the best you can to hear the feedback, apologize, offer a solution and modify going forward.
Beyond that, there’s not much more you can do.