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How to Respond to Negative Comments Online

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As a business in this day and age, you have undoubtedly realized that people take to the internet to air their complaints, no matter how trivial. A rude manager, cold food, a broken product — whatever the grievance — you’re going to hear about it on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and everywhere else you can write a review. 

But how do you respond to these so-called 'haters?' Well, first of all, don’t think of them as haters. Think of them as unsatisfied customers, customers who deserve your attention, service, and most of all, a response.


One thing that unhappy customers want most is your acknowledgment. While a refund or a 20% coupon is certainly welcomed, they want you to respond to them and say you’re sorry.

Instead of steaming about the negative feedback and blasting out an angry retort (you’ll regret it later), turn it into something positive by engaging with your customers. While you won’t always win that customer back, but you may gain respect as a business, which can be just as important.

Here are a few ways to professionally respond to negative reviews online:

  1. Stay calm: Keeping your cool is key to responding to a negative review. We understand that when people badmouth your business that you want fire back, guns ablazing. Unfortunately, you’re going to have to keep it to yourself. Even if the reviewer is not telling the truth or he or she has misconstrued the situation, take the time to formulate a polite, professional response.

  2. Respond in a timely manner: Don’t wait weeks or even days to respond to a comment, good or bad. Reply as soon as you can. According to a study by Edison Research, 42% of consumers on social media expect a response to their complaint within 60 minutes; 32% expect a response within 30 minutes. Most businesses, especially small or locally owned ones, don’t have the staff or time to sit around and patrol for complaints all day. So, once you do come across one, respond ASAP — after you cool off, of course. (See #1).

  3. Add the human touch: When responding to a negative comment, be genuine and transparent. Show people that you actually care about their business. People are more intuitive than you think. A customer will quickly realize you are sending out canned responses to everyone. Instead of just saying, “We are sorry. Come back and see us!,” acknowledge the person by name and specifically refer to their complaint. Just don’t offer an apology though; also offer a solution. Tell that person how you plan to make it right and say you appreciate their feedback.

  4. Spin it: Turn that negative comment into something positive. In addition to a sincere apology and offering a solution, include something good about your business. For example, “We are very sorry you had a bad experience with us. We have been in business for 10 years, and every day we work hard to provide our customers with quality products and service.”

Being professional, courteous and providing the best customer service is a huge part of branding your business. Your reputation online is very important. 

In summary: don’t get defensive, provide a prompt response, and be real and positive. The old saying still holds true, “The customer is always right… even when they’re wrong.” Don’t forget it.

How do you handle criticism online? Tell us in the comments below!


Want more tips on how to successfully market yourself online? Contact ROI Online for a free personal branding consultation!


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photo by jesadaphorn / Free Digital Photos

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