IT and Business Insights for SMB Solution Providers

Trash Talk: Dealing with Bad Reviews

Social media is a boon for businesses, but learn how to respond when a customer talks trash about their service or support.

By Carolyn Heinze

Isn’t it great when people say nice things about your business on social media? Isn’t it terrible when they’re unhappy with your service, and post their thoughts for everyone to readsometimes using the angriest of angry language? Hopefully, your company receives more of the former than the latter, but when you get a bad review, here are three things you should do:

1. Be responsive. One of the biggest mistakes companies make is not responding when they receive a poor rating or a harsh comment, according to Carole Billingsley, founder of Seek Social Media in Houston. In her consultancy, Billingsley helps businesses develop social media strategies and policies, including those that apply to crisis management. Her experience has taught her that a nonresponse runs the risk of that bad review going viral.

“If people are complainingespecially if it’s a legitimate complaintand no one’s responding and nothing is being fixed, people will jump on that like wildfire,” Billingsley says. Instead, businesses should seize this as an opportunity to dive in and solve the problem. “Somebody’s unhappy and you have the ability to make it rightand make it right in real timeand put it out to the world that it’s been made right.”

2. Assign a responder. Social media is lightning fast, and if you’re going to be responsive you need someone to stay on top of it. Billingsley counsels companies to anticipate bad reviews, and have a plan of action that includes who is going to respond, how much autonomy they have before they have to consult with superior management, whom that superior management is, and some guidelines on what the actual responses should look like.

3. Respect yourself. If you messed up, that’s one thing. But if someone is wreaking social media havoc in your direction just to make trouble, don’t try to smooth things over by admitting to something you didn’t do. At the same time, even an illegitimate bad review usually requires some kind of a response.

In this case, Billingsley suggests taking the conversation offline by proposing a telephone chat with the irate customer, or a private email exchange. Whichever medium you choose, however, it’s ill-advised to react in anger, no matter how much they ticked you off. “You don’t want to respond unkindly, because that’s going to escalate the situation,” Billingsley says. “Your conversation, then, will be posted throughout all social media for the world to see for eternity. That’s certainly not the kind of publicity you want.”

About the Author

Carolyn Heinze is a regular freelance contributor to ChannelPro-SMB.

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