Dealing with Negative Feedback via Social Media

So, you finally came to the agreement that Social Media is the way of the future, but you’ve started to notice that while you and your associates think highly of your products, services, centers, stores, or other, there are some people out there on the Internet are saying something different.

Is the best practice to dump the whole thing entirely, or is there a better way to deal with a negative situation on the web?

Thanks to Mashable and the American Express OPEN Forum, there’s a simple plan to turning negative social content into a positive relationship, without panic. Reading the advice below will help you and your customer service team understand the different types of negative feedback, so further positive responses can be had. In traditional advertising, company’s provide one-sided messages to the consumer, that can either be accepted or rejects, but can never be responded to, directly to the company itself. With social media, it’s the opposite. Engaging in this medium welcomes a two-sided conversation, giving companies the opportunity to learn from their market about what’s really working and what’s not.

1. Identify the Type of Feedback
The first step to dealing with negative feedback is determining what type of feedback you’ve received. Negative feedback comes in a few different flavors, each of which is best dealt with by a different type of response. Determining which type of feedback you’re dealing with is an essential first step toward figuring out what is the appropriate response.

· Straight Problems – This type of feedback is negative in the sense that it paints your business in a poor light, but it can be helpful in exposing real problems that need to be dealt with.

· Constructive Criticism - Many customers — including some of your most loyal — will use social media to suggest ways in which you can improve your product or service. While this type of feedback may point out your flaws, and is thus negative, it can be extremely helpful to receive.

· Merited Attack – Essentially, you or your company did something wrong, and someone is angry.

· Trolling/Spam – Trolls and spammers will use a negative comment about your product or service (whether true or not) to promote a competing service.

2. Decide How to React
The number one rule when responding to all criticism, even the negative type, is to stay positive. Adding more negativity to the conversation by letting yourself be drawn into a fight with a customer or user will only reflect poorly on your business.

When dealing with Straight Problems, a response is almost certainly necessary.  Regardless, if a real problem exists, steps should be taken to fix it and customers should be notified that those steps are being taken. Remember that there will be times when such criticism is the result of a perceived problem rather than an actual problem (e.g., someone who just doesn’t like the method by which you do something). Even this type of complaint should be given a response, if only to say, “Thanks for bringing it to our attention, but here’s why we do it that way.”

Similarly, Constructive Criticism also requires a response. Certainly there will be times when you won’t want to implement the suggestion given — probably most times you won’t — but you’ll build loyalty and trust by responding to criticism with a positive message.

Merited Attacks are a bit tougher to deal with, because they’re more likely to feel personal. You should always try to keep in mind that this type of feedback, as harsh as it may be, has a basis in a real problem. It is best to respond promptly and with a positive vibe (e.g., thank the commenter for the feedback and assure them that steps are being taken to correct the issue or mitigate their problem, such as offering a partial refund).

The final category is the only category of negative feedback that does not require a response. In fact, it is almost always best not to respond to Trolling or Spam. This type of feedback isn’t really feedback at all. It is designed either to bait you into an unnecessary and image-damaging fight, or to siphon off your customers using underhanded tactics. You should always ignore this variety of feedback, and when appropriate, remove it as soon as you spot it.”

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