As much as you may want everyone to love you, sometimes it just doesn’t happen. When someone says something negative about your business online, how do you handle bad comments or reviews online?

The internet is rife with trolls and people who feel they can say what they think because it’s easier than talking to a person directly. When you have a business persona online, your chances of getting some negative feedback at some point during your operation is almost 100% likely to happen. Here’s what to do.

Can I just remove bad comments or reviews?

Usually, the first reaction most people have when they see a bad comment or review is they want to remove it. They don’t want others to see it, and they want no trace of it ever happening to appear on their accounts. However, deleting a comment is not a good idea. Here’s why.

If someone is leaving you a negative remark, it often means they are already at a slightly elevated state of frustration. What does deleting the comment say to them? To them, it could make them feel like you are ignoring them. They may think you are not open to change, you think they are lying, and the list goes on. It doesn’t solve the problem. Often, it makes the problem worse. So most of the time, don’t delete it.

When to delete a bad comment or review

Now, I’ve had my instances where deleting the comment was the right course of action. For example, I worked with a company, and we were doing a post about a new general manager they had for their restaurant. Within minutes of posting a photo of the person and welcoming them to the team online, we got a scathing comment. It featured plenty of profanities all about what a horrible person the GM was. As someone who was managing that account, I immediately brought it to the attention of the business. By telling them who left the comment, it turned out to the be new general manager’s sister. She was trying to be funny and didn’t realize that their 1000+ Facebook fans could see it. This instance warranted deleting the comment altogether because we knew the history of the situation. It also didn’t reflect anything worthwhile about the business.

Typically, if you can try to remedy the situation, because the person may have a valid complaint, do it. Sometimes asking other members of your team if they know who the complaining customer is and getting a bigger picture of the full story can be helpful. Then, you’ll know how to approach the situation.

If the comment or review is a spammer trying to make your company look bad, delete it and block them from your page. More often than not, you’ll want to try to remedy the situation instead of removing a bad comment or review.

Take it offline

With some bad comments or reviews, if you don’t think to try to remedy the issue online will work, getting them to a safer and more private space is a good option. You don’t want ever to collect their contact information to reach out to them if you don’t already have it. Have a point person who deals with customer complaints online to field phone calls. Also, allow private messaging through sites like Facebook. Make sure they know that you have read their complaint and are working to find a solution. This often can be enough to look good to others who see your online profile and can calm the customer down.

Let’s pretend you own a hair salon, and a customer got their hair cut. They seemed to like it upon leaving, but then went home and tweeted about how much they just paid and how much they hated their haircut. They also tagged your business in the post. It read, “OMG! I hate my haircut I got from @Goodcutz. I spent a fortune, and it’s terrible!” You could respond to the person, “Hey @theirhandle! Let us help to fix this! We’ll call you!” Then call them. You didn’t need to get into asking them why or what went wrong. Customers will just see that you reacted and are doing something to help them. On sites like Facebook, you can get them to private message you. Often, offering a phone number for them to call you will work, also.

How to respond

If you decide to do a more in depth conversation online, the first thing you want to do is apologize. You may be thinking, “But what if the customer is wrong, and it’s not the businesses fault?” Here’s the catch – you don’t necessarily have to acknowledge that they are right if they aren’t. You just need to apologize for how they felt when they left the bad comment or review. For instance, let’s say you are an auto dealership and someone is furious about the wait time to get their car in for service. You know that you weren’t able to book the appointment sooner because of the number of customers you already had scheduled. However, the customer is still furious. Instead of apologizing that you weren’t able to book the appointment, you could apologize for their frustration with the situation. You still acknowledge their feelings in that instance.

From there, it is your job to try to remedy the situation politely.

An example

For instance, if the comment is, “I was referred to your auto dealership, and I can’t get in to get my car fixed for three weeks! That’s outrageous! I’m going to go somewhere else! You just lost my business!” – Jane Doe

You could respond, “Hi Jane Doe, we’re sorry to see how frustrated you are. Because of the upcoming holiday, where many people enjoy road travel, we currently have more customers bringing their vehicles in than typical for service. It’s one of our busiest times of the year. We think you’ll find that to be true throughout the industry. Depending on what’s wrong with your vehicle, we sometimes have to schedule larger jobs out a little while. This gives us adequate time to fix the vehicle without needing to keep it at our shop. While we’d hate to lose your business, you are welcome to call around for other appointments. In the meantime, we’d be happy to get you on our schedule and can add you to our cancellation list, so we can try to get you in sooner. You’re welcome to contact our service manager, Bill, at 555-555-5555 or send us a direct message through our Facebook page to discuss the matter further and book an appointment.”

In this example, the dealership addresses a few things. First, they make the apology. It’s not their fault that there is an upcoming holiday. Second, they explain the situation in a little more detail. This helps the customer not think they are being scheduled out for no reason. They try to make them realize that while they are welcome to contact other dealerships, they will likely end up with a similar outcome. Third, by providing them a particular person or way to get in touch with them, they feel like they are cared for and being listened to. This gives them the sense that you are going the extra mile by putting them on the cancellation list.

Admit your faults

Now, if you were wrong in some way, own it! Apologize for your error and try to go above and beyond to solve the customer’s situation. You may need to give them a discount or refund (which you might want to do privately, so others don’t try to complain just to get a good deal). Online, make sure your followers can see that you’ve worked with the customer, owned the mistake, and are trying to remedy the situation.

More often than not, a polite reply can sometimes be enough to make them happier and calm them down. The customer is on a mission to blast their frustration online in their bad comment or review and make sure all of their friends can see it. Since everyone can also see how you respond back to the situation, it’s imperative that you do so with tact.

What if apologizing doesn’t work?

Sometimes you have those customers who won’t be happy, no matter what. They feel wronged in some way, and nothing you can do will make the situation better. In these instances, try to remedy the situation and be sure to give them additional contact information so they can get in touch with you. If you know who the customer is and can reach out to them via phone, you may want to.

You may also need to agree to disagree with them politely. You could issue another apology that you weren’t able to work it out and wish the customer good luck elsewhere. Then stop conversing.

The people who follow your social media will see that you made an attempt to remedy the situation. Often, they will be able also to see that you tried to fix the problem and you’re dealing with an unruly customer.

What if the customer is flat out wrong?

In some industries, customers can get angry but have no merit behind their frustration. In certain cases, you may be able to prove this with things like receipts or surveillance footage. While you don’t want to get into a fighting match with a customer online, sometimes making sure they know you have looked into their grievance. You may find a different scenario based on facts is enough to make them stop the argument. The proof will often make them look silly and they won’t respond.

Again, you need to be cautious with how you respond. For instance, if a customer is upset that they ordered a product, and it never arrived, but you have no record of them ordering any product, you could politely tell them you don’t believe the order went through and to reorder. If they argue further, you could ask them to contact you with a copy of the receipt privately. If they never got one or can’t provide one, you’ve proven your point.

Remember, if they can provide a receipt and it turns out that it was a system glitch on your end, for example, deal with the situation appropriately. Even if they are wrong, you could still maybe offer a coupon code for a discount to keep them happy.

Know when a customer is complaining

Even if you don’t actively use every social media site, it’s a good idea to at least claim your business and set up an account on the major networks. Highly consider doing this on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. This will allow you to set up keyword monitoring using third party software like HootSuite. You can also set up additional monitoring through Google Alerts. Most importantly, make sure you have your notifications turned on, or someone on your team does, so you know when people are interacting with the content you push out. Typically you can get emails sent to you for social media sites and ones like Yelp or other review sites.

Have you had problems with customers online? How did you deal with bad comments or reviews? Let us know in the comments and be sure to download our free cheat sheet, “The Facebook Metrics Everyone Needs to Know,” so you can keep ahead of your competition on social media!

The Facebook Metrics Everyone Needs To Know - Bad comments or reviews