How Rude! The Best Ways to Respond to Negative Comments

Ever wonder why people bother arguing on forums, blogs, or social media? If you’ve witnessed one of these heated debates, you probably noticed that in the end no one ever changes their mind.

The only change that occurs is when bystanders on either side choose to block their controversial friends from their feed.

The same can happen on a company blog. If you’re a regular blogger, you’re bound to have a few trolls who strongly disagree with and/or mock everything you say and do.

He may leave a heated or derogatory comment or send a passive-aggressive tweet that can easily get your blood pressure going.

If you’re truly passionate about a cause or viewpoint, there’s nothing wrong with expressing it. But many people tend to rely on emotion rather than fact to make their point.

Becoming a master of online debate is an art, and crafting a reply that can turn the negativity into something beneficial for your platform takes true poise.

All businesses make mistakes on some issue or the other. It can end up rubbing some customers the wrong way which can lead to negative comments on social media.

At times some events and incidents unfold and spin out of control. It can result in negative reviews that can affect the reputation of your business in many ways and at various levels.

Whether you deserve those negative comments or not can be a different point altogether. The bottom line is that it can do harm to your carefully developed online reputation.

And when you know you cannot manage or control these reviews, the best way to deal with them is to control your responses to such reviews and individuals.

When Washington-based Liberty Bottleworks was confronted by a customer on Facebook last week, co-founder Ryan Clark responded in a way that not only settled the dispute with the disgruntled customer but also resulted in hundreds of new fans for the small business.

While his tactic may not work for all businesses, here are some tips to keep in mind when dealing with negative comments:

1. Stay calm. DON’T USE CAPS LOCK. And avoid strong punctuation!!!

Using ALL CAPS if you are communicating digitally for business purposes can create a negative view for your organization. Imagine receiving an email in all caps containing offensive and harsh language to go with it, it’s an immature way for a business to communicate.

If you think these incidents (all caps emails) do not happen, you’ll be surprised to know that many executives do it. They believe that all caps content is just a way of emphasizing their message, but in corporate digital communication it’s a big no-no.

Business executives have something important to say in their communications pretty frequently, but all caps content is not the way to do it when the same can be done in a graceful and mature way. Understanding online communication etiquette is important.

Caps lock and multiple exclamation points only show that you’re letting your emotions get the best of you. You may think you’re emphasizing a strong point, but to the outside world, you appear unstable and dramatic. Just delete, take a deep breath, and respond rationally.

A fascinating 2018 study by Inc.com found that it takes roughly 40 positive guest or customer experiences to make up for 1 negative experience. Rationality, then, cannot be understated.

2. Use the Care Bear Stare

The Care Bear Stare is a method that allows you to approach an upset customer or commenter and turn the relationship around. It’s just like the saying Kill them with kindness. 

If you respond in a way that defends your belief but also compliments the commenter or their beliefs, you’ll find their next response to be much more kind. You might even win an apology out of it.

A classic example of the above was exhibited by GlassesUSA.com when one of its customers complained about the extended delay in resolving a complaint about colored contacts. The company representative deftly neutralized a potentially unpleasant situation by first apologizing for the bad experience and then reiterating the company’s commitment to meeting the customers’ needs. She then made that statement good by sending a store credit update. They probably won the customer over with this simple but highly effective move.

3. State the facts

Never rely on your opinion to get your point across. Stick to the facts. This may mean acknowledging facts that favor the opposition, and that’s okay. At least you’ll show that you’ve considered both sides of the debate, which will make you more credible to bystanders.

Remember that your chances to win the aggressive commenter’s approval or patronage are negligible, so your priority should be to save face with bystanders.

The importance of saving face becomes even more crucial when looking at the results of a massive survey of online reviews as they relate to local businesses.

This 2018 study found:

  • 86% of consumers read reviews for local businesses.
  • 40% of consumers will only use a local business if it has more than 4 stars.
  • 89% of consumers read business’ responses to reviews.

That last bullet is significant, because not only does it mean that 9 out of 10 people will read a negative review, but that your response has the power to repair the damage the negative review has done.

Replying the right way to a review shows you care about customer satisfaction enough to discuss it in public. It can be very beneficial for your business if done the right way.

4. Reference your work

Sometimes an angry blog comment will come from someone who only read the opening paragraph and failed to read any further. Their argument then backs up the exact points you made. Some people find it hard to resist calling this commenter an idiot when in fact their comment is a good thing. Just politely address where you agreed with his points in the original piece and move on.

5. Respect their opinion

Show respect for other people’s opinions. Acknowledge that there are always several sides to any debate and that you appreciate them bringing a different perspective. You may disagree with their opinion, but as long as you’ve followed the tips above, you’ll still have credibility.

6. Keep Your Responses Crisp and Positively Worded

Of course you must respond to negative reviews, but don’t make it long-winded and wordy. The rule of thumb is to keep it crisp. Cover your response in three to four sentences at most.

You might be itching to counter the negative review, more so if it’s unfair and unjust, with some solid counter-arguments. But the urge to defend every point must be resisted. You might prove your case but it makes bad business sense. Did you consider that long-winded responses can actually give the complaint a shade of legitimacy?

Experts opine that going into details of the issue in the comment could make you sound defensive and put you on the back foot. The same stands for follow up questions on the issue as it can end up with the aggrieved customer stating more negative things.

Remember, your response might be for individuals who made a negative review in the first place. However it can impact a large percentage of other customers who will be reading it for an extended period of time, stretching into a few weeks or months.

This vital factor must be considered while responding to negative reviews. It will help you respond in a measured and mature tone.

7. Know when to stop

Sometimes it’s best to agree to disagree. If you find yourself needing to repeat statements you’ve already made, it’s time to walk away from the conversation.

Nothing good can come from a constant circle of arguments. Once again, you’ll be more respected for handling a situation with the maturity to walk away. Let’s not repeat the public meltdown of Amy’s Bakery, shall we?

If you don’t want to respond to native comments on Facebook

If you are the admin of a popular Facebook presence you’ll understand more than most just how frustrating it can be to moderate comment threads.

Fortunately Facebook has equipped page admins with tools to moderate comment threads so they can keep their business presence clean and respectable.

Use the hide comment function

In this slide, a comment thread from the perspective of the page admin is being accessed. The option highlighted in red allows page admins to hide hostile or unsavory comments from everyone viewing the page.

However the clever thing about the hide function is it’s still visible to the commenter, therefore sparing you from the backlash of outright deleting a comment which may cause the commenter to get angry and post even more unsavory comments.

Negative comments are every marketer’s worst nightmare. You may be working your hardest to build a positive image and have done everything right, but you are bound to run into a peeved customer at one point or another. Keep these tips in mind and you’ll be able to salvage the image you’ve worked so hard to build and win more loyalty with your customers.