When you’re in business long enough, you’re bound to have someone react negatively to something that you do or don’t do. They might put a nasty comment on one of your books on Amazon, they may put a comment on a Facebook post, or they might even give you a bad rating on Google or Facebook. You may also get a complaint via email about your products or services. Because of this, you need to learn to handle negative comments in a way that will not negatively impact your reputation.
Determine If the Comment Is Genuine or Spam
There are people who will say anything negative just to get a response, but first you should check to find out if the commenter is a real customer or just someone who is being paid to spam you or who otherwise has something against you. In fact, some spammers don’t even know who you are and are just kids in their mom’s basement.
So first, figure out whether the comment is spam or not, then decide what to do. If it’s spam and you’re able to delete it, do so. If you can’t delete it, contact the platform owners, simply ignore it, or find a way to respond with humor in a way that lets people know you believe it’s spam but also answers any concerns that the comment may have brought up to readers.
Contact the Commenter Privately
Try to contact the commenter in private even if they have posted publicly. As you talk to them in private, act as if it’s public. Be polite, focus on fixing their problem, and ignore their attitude if it’s rude or hurtful. Ask questions designed to help them tell you what they need to make it right. If it’s a full refund and that’s all that will work, then go right ahead and give them a refund. There is no point trying to deal with someone who has no solution other than that.
If it gets too contentious and you’re able to do so, just go ahead and block them. That will help get rid of the problem. However, if you can fix it, ask them to remove their comment, or ask them to comment publicly that you’ve fixed the problem satisfactorily.
Develop Guidelines to Help You and Others Respond Properly
Your guidelines should include provisions to stay polite, fix problems, protect privacy, strive for honesty and accuracy, be respectful and to always, always remember that your audience is watching. If it’s too hard for you to separate feelings from this part of the business, you may want to hire someone to deal with customer service for you so that you don’t have to see it and only the most egregious issues can be sent to you.
Give your customer service personnel wide girth to solve problems, including refunding money when asked. It’s always better to refund and move on than to stand your ground even when you’re in the right, due to how the audience will see your behavior. All guidelines should consider that calls are being recorded, private conversations are being copied, and public comments are being shared.
The best way to deal with negative comments is to act professionally, positively, and quickly. The sooner you deal with these issues, the better.