How to Deal with Negative Reviews on Social Media

The power that social media and reviews have on your business is huge. A whopping 90% of customers seek out products or services with online reviews, and 88% trust the reviews they read.

What do your reviews say about your company?

Everyone loves positive reviews, but negative reviews are sometimes hard to hear and frustrating. Don't worry. We're going to show you how they can actually be an opportunity to showcase your work ethic, character, and professionalism.

If you’ve had a negative review and are trying to figure out the best way to handle it, here’s what you need to know.

How to Respond to Negative Reviews with 6 Key Points

1. (Almost) Always Respond

Every negative review deserves your response except "trolling" comments. People "trolling" you often baselessly leave negative comments to try and elicit an emotionally upset response from you. Delete or report those comments every time, but evaluate it carefully first. Are they trying to make your business or product appear foolish or stupid, or are they a legitimate, upset customer leaving a negative review?

You have to be very careful when handling borderline comments. Delete an unsatisfied customer's response, and you lose an opportunity to delight them and they become detractors for your brand. But don't waste your time with comments that are trying to make your business look foolish.

That said, every comment, negative and positive alike, is an opportunity to promote your brand as one that cares about its customers and making them thrilled. Ensure you always thank positive comments and rectify negative comments.

2. Make Responses Timely, Not Necessarily Quick

While a quick response time is seen as a favorable business trait, sometimes waiting to respond can be a better option. If the negative review gets you all fired up, it’s best to wait until you’re calm to respond. If you’re not sure whether to respond right away or take a second to listen and reflect before your response, follow these simple guidelines:

If it’s negative and . . .

  • The information in the review is false - An immediate response is necessary to clear up any misinformation. Don't attack the review or reviewer. Simply cite the facts with appropriate sources. 
  • The information in the review is false & the customer is unhappy - Respond right away to see how you can make things right. Again, provide clarity on the facts and do whatever you can (within reason) to turn the situation around and make your customer happy.
  • The info is correct, but the customer is offering constructive criticism - It’s okay to wait 24–48 hours to respond. That said, use this opportunity to get an in-depth product review from them to try and improve your offering.
  • It seems like a prank or a troll - Don’t answer at all. Again, don’t waste your time on people who aren’t really interested in your product/service.

Not responding is usually not an option, and neither is responding in a way that is unprofessional, dishonest, or mean-spirited. Your potential future customers are reading these reviews and analyzing how and when you respond. The way you react and how quickly you respond says more about your company than the bad review does.

3. Utilize the Commenters' Platform

The way you respond also depends on who is leaving the review. If a social media influencer leaves the review (someone with a significant amount of followers), a prompt response is necessary with the right amount of attention drawn to it. If the review is left by Cranky Carl, who has 12 followers, all of whom have been in his kitchen, you don’t have to be too concerned that his negative experience will have a significant impact on your business (but you still need to respond).

High-profile influencer comments and reviews should be prioritized and publicized if appropriate. Say your product is reviewed negatively by a popular YouTuber. Reach out to them to help you improve your product, make the desired changes to make that person happy, and ask them to put out a fresh video reviewing your new-and-improved product. That's a great way to turn negative attention into an even more positive platform for your brand and product/service. You can see how influential someone is on social media by checking out how many people follow them and their Klout score.

4. Be Authentic and Professional

When you’re ready to respond, there are a few things your response needs to sound authentic, respectful, and professional. Even if the customer resorts to name-calling or making false accusations, take the high road and stick to the facts. Also, if your brand's voice is more casual, it's still important to be professional within that scope. Don't dull your brand's image by stooping to profanity or immaturity.

5. Own Up to Any Faults

Owning up to any part of the problem is key in making your customer feel appreciated and heard. If you dropped the ball, own it. Apologize for any misunderstandings or mistakes on your end, and make it clear on how you’ll fix the error in the future. If necessary, find a reasonable way to compensate the customer for their trouble.

If the bad review is not your fault, use your response as a way to gently correct the false information in the review. Find a way to thank the customer (even if it’s hard) for providing feedback and allowing your company to learn and grow from these mistakes. If they had anything positive to say, focus on that and thank them for their feedback. Making accusations or finger-pointing is not helpful, so use your response as a way to remind the client of the facts of the situation and the role you played in trying to make it right.

6. Don't Argue. Ever.

There’s no need to go back and forth in an online debate. Respond to the review with the facts and leave it at that. If the customer wants to discuss their experience further, give them your contact details to do so privately. Be available for a phone call, or give them your email for a more personalized conversation. Don’t fall into a back-and-forth argument for all of your customers to see. It looks childish and unprofessional, is a big time-waster, and doesn’t help your case.

Final Thoughts

Negative reviews are not the end of the world. When clients search for reviews for a company and find only great comments, they may think something is a little fishy. People want authentic experiences and reviews. Someone who had a bad experience but received a positive response from the company may make the product more attractive than one that seems too good to be true.

An occasional negative review is an opportunity for your company to showcase your values and make it clear that the opinions and experiences of your customers are important. Potential customers will care more about how you rectified a bad situation than the bad situation itself.

As long as you’re keeping it factual and professional, your response to a negative review will give your online audience a glimpse of your company's character. A quick and genuine reply, sometimes with an apology, can go a long way in turning an unhappy customer into a repeat customer.

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