While brand bashing is nothing new, the tools of the web and social media make the comments from “meanies” even more lasting and impressionable. Whether bad-mouthing a product via Twitter or leaving a scathing review on Yelp, unhappy customers—or mischievous competitors—can and will sully your business, often through anonymous accounts. Can and should you fight back? Yes, here’s how to do that.
1. First of all, determine whether the comment deserves your attention. Some people leave outrageous comments with the sole purpose of generating conflict. If they don’t seem to have a following, and anyone can see their comments are routinely malicious, their venomous feedback might not rate any reaction.
2. Make a quick response your first priority. The longer you let a negative comment go unanswered, the more credibility it gains with a user’s friends and followers. An immediate reply, however, shows that you’re paying attention and concerned about the problem.
3. Apologize, even if the customer is incorrect. A petty argument about who’s right and who’s wrong will accomplish little. Most observers will see silly complaints for what they are.
4. Continue tricky conversations in private. Provide an initial response in public, but move ongoing discussions with difficult customers to private channels.
5. Thank customers for their feedback. Treat any complaint—however harsh—as though it were constructive criticism. After you’ve apologized for your customer’s unsatisfactory experience, let them know their feedback is appreciated and that you’ll seriously consider their suggestion for improvement. And be sure you follow through on your promise.