How to Respond to a Negative Comment Online

Social media has given the general public an instant channel through which they can air their complaints — and sometimes, when they’re particularly displeased, they can be downright rude about it. Responding to a negative comment on social media can be a delicate process, but it is also an integral part of guest relationship management. Here are our tips for navigating this process with ease.

Take a minute to digest

There are serious lessons to be learned from Amy’s Baking Company’s 2013 social media meltdown — namely, that it’s crucial to reflect before you respond. While it’s not unusual to take negative comments personally, it’s important to control how you act. You may be tempted to ignore, delete, or — as with Amy’s Baking Company — respond angrily to the comment, but it’s essential to take the high road here. Backing away from the keyboard for a moment to cool down, assess the comment, and attempt to see it from the guest’s point of view will save you trouble down the line.

Gauge if it’s worth a response

If the user has launched an incoherent tirade about your brand, complete with offensive and abusive language, then it might simply be best to ignore it. However, if the user has a question or a valid concern, even if they’re not mincing their words, it’s in your best interest to address it. While researching his new book, Hug Your Haters, customer service guru Jay Baer discovered that “not responding to a customer complaint in social media decreases customer advocacy by 43 percent.” To boil it down: You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by addressing your guests’ legitimate concerns.

Respond promptly

Treat your guests as if they were standing right in front of you, because for many, service through social media is no different than service delivered in person or via telephone. McKinsey research found that “more than 50 percent of Twitter users expect a response in less than two hours”, so your guests expect their problems to be dealt with, and dealt with now. If possible, try to respond to them within the hour; at the very least, don’t let a negative comment go unanswered for more than 24 hours.

Be authentic

According to Business Insider, in 2013, American Airlines invited the internet’s mockery when it used a bot to send canned responses thanking users — even the ones who were making vitriolic posts — for their support. Don’t be like American Airlines. Your guests want to feel that their concerns are being taken seriously, that someone is listening, and that they’re having a conversation with a real person. When you respond, ensure your message includes an apology and, if not an immediate solution, then at least a promise that you’ll find one.

Ask them to take it to a private conversation

Apologizing publicly is a great way to show the internet you care, but try to keep the rest of the conversation private if you can. Everyone can see what you say on social media, and allowing the conversation to continue in the public eye could bring further details to the surface that reflect poorly on you. After you’ve acknowledged the user’s comment, ask them to contact you through a specific email address or phone number to discuss the specifics of the situation.

Catch the problem before it gets to social media

In a perfect world, all your guests would leave your property happy and satisfied, but the reality is that most of your guests won’t tell you when they’re displeased with an aspect of their experience. That’s why it’s important to take the initiative and reach out to your guests so you can resolve their problems before they leave your property. This is where a mobile guest engagement solution comes in handy; it’s a channel guests can use to instantly make their needs known, so your team can more efficiently respond and turn a dissatisfied guest into a brand advocate.

Want more tips on how to manage your reputation online? Download our white paper, Reputation Management, for all the information you’ll need.

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