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Changing the Story: Responding to negative feedback on social media

The AWG digital marketing team works with our retailers to develop and grow their online presence by creating and maintaining websites, email marketing platforms and social media profiles. When a retailer signs up to create a social media profile, usually a Facebook page, one of their first questions to us is “What happens if a customer leaves a negative comment on my page?” As Cara suggested in her recent post about transparency in social media, you should answer it.

This is a scary prospect for many store owners and managers. Unlike answering a customer complaint in-store, this complaint is online for everyone to see and it will remain there until you take it down or delete your profile. Sometimes our retailers want to delete these comments immediately without responding to the complaint. While we understand the temptation to remove this kind of negative feedback posted on a public forum, there are several key reasons why it isn’t a good idea to delete negative feedback (posts/comments/reviews).

First, if you delete the comment without responding to it any way, you are likely going to further irritate an upset customer. Imagine if someone walked up to you in the store with a complaint and you simply walked away without even responding? Approach any social media platform with the same level of customer service that you encourage and value in your store.

Second, you have a chance to “change the story,” so to speak, from the perspective of both the upset customer and anyone else who is reading their post/comment/tweet. If you address the customer’s issue and they’re satisfied, not only have you made this one person happy, you have shown other current and potential customers that you value your customers and their feedback.

Finally, you can only control what somebody else posts about you on your own social media profile. If you delete their comment without responding, you cannot guarantee that they aren’t on their own Facebook profile, posting the same complaint or even worse things about your store. If it gets to that point, you no longer have the option to engage in a dialogue because your business fan page cannot interact with their personal profile. But if you respond to their complaint and they are ultimately satisfied, imagine what kind of positive things they might post about you on their own profile!

Of course, there are exceptions to this idea. If the complaint includes vulgar or derogatory language, or includes the full name of a store employee (a possible privacy violation and safety issue), you should delete the post. If you feel that they are simply trying to spread rumors about your store, you should delete the post. Be sure not to get this confused with a customer who is merely mistaken about something. If that’s the case, this is yet another opportunity to not only enlighten the person lodging the complaint, but anyone else who is reading it who might have thought the same thing.

As a store owner or manager, it is ultimately your decision about what to do with negative feedback on your social media profiles. Just remember that you have the opportunity to change the story from negative to positive while they are posting on your page. Don’t assume that deleting the negative feedback has deleted the issue.

Why do I work at AWG? “I like working for a company that supports local, often times family-owned, businesses in everything they do in order to help them succeed and stay competitive. It’s great to interact with the stores on a daily basis and learn about their story and the communities they serve.” -Melanie