How to Handle Negative Comments on Social Media

One of the biggest fears of many small businesses when beginning to use Social Media tools is that of negative reviews. I talk a lot about the benefits of an active online presence but there is a dark side to this publicity.

    1. In this article I talk about what happens if you are NOT present in the online space.
    2. I interview the renown customer service expert Roy Prevost about what to do about customer complaints.
    3. And finally, I will show you how to handle complaints on Facebook. With a special appearance by the brilliant and funny Tara Smith.

customer complaints on social media

When I first started talking to people about bringing their business online the use of social media tools for customer service was still very new and the understanding of the impact for small businesses was limited. Today many of us know of stories of customer complaints gone wrong.

We now know how beneficial and how damaging reviews on Social Media sites can be. If you don’t have direct access to these online conversations you can’t defend yourself in case you are unfairly attacked, you can’t explain misunderstandings and you can’t thank your fans when they say nice things about you and your business.

And they will say all of these things about you and your business. By being present online and claiming the assets of your business not only will you be found, you can be part of the conversation. The relevant places are different for each type of business. Here are the most important places you should claim:

  1. Google My Business
  2. Facebook Places (can be combined with your Facebook page)
  3. Trip Advisor if you have a Restaurant or offer accommodations
  4. Yelp if you have a brick and mortar store

Before I begin to answer the question of how to handle negative comments on Social Media I would like you to listen to what my friend and customer service coach Roy Prevost has to say.

Roy Prevost is an entrepreneur, international speaker, futurist and a best selling author who forecasts trends in leadership, customer service and management in the 21st Century. He is unique in North America in the area of preparing small business for the upcoming generation of millennials and the Z generation.

With over 25 years of experience in all facets of management and leadership , Roy is a seasoned professional who has delivered more than 350 workshops on customer service and how to create an environment of trust, openness and contribution within your organization.

Roy delivers real stories from the real world with real solutions.


Some of the things Roy said are:

  • I see complaints as a gift and opportunity
  • For every person that complains there are 25 that don’t complain but just suffer through whatever challenge there is
  • Handle complaints as soon as possible. Get on the phone or find out the best way to reach the person. Every hour that goes by means collateral damage to your company
  • If you run into the other kind of complainers, boy I tell you it’s a difficult place to be
  • A lot of business owners really don’t know how to handle angry customers
  • There are times when the customer is not right! You can fire a customer

Roy Prevost’s three steps to conflict resolution:

  1. Isolate the customer from the crowd
  2. Let the person talk without interruption until they are finished
  3. Ask “What would you feel would be the appropriate resolution?”

How to deal with customer complaints left on Facebook or other Social Media sites?

As mentioned above, it is crucial you have direct access to your social media channels so you can react swiftly and directly.

Often we are upset by negative comments and want to delete them right away. In my experience, this is not a good idea. Often complainers get upset by this and start posting more and angrier comments. Instead it is wiser to see if you can resolve the conflict using a similar approach as described in my interview above.

I recommend a 3 step approach:

  1. Acknowledge the complaint and offer an explanation publicly
  2. If that doesn’t work, contact the person or invite them to get in touch with you. Message them if you can
  3. If the comments are very rude and unreasonable, delete them and consider blocking the person from your page

There can be gold in answering concerns publicly!

A) Your visitors see that you take complaints seriously and you care about how your customers feel.

B) In many cases, you prevent answering the same concern over and over because visitors can see how you handled it before.

This way of managing the conversation is often called “Reputation Management”

My three top tips for handling comments and reviews on Facebook:

  1. Jump on it ASAP! Set notifications and react as quickly as you can – ideally before the customer leaves the restaurant or store.
    1. Like every positive comment and review and thank people for their comment
  2. Deleting a comment is your last resort – use it only for rude comments if no resolution can be reached
  3. Make it right! make it right on facebook

Tara Hunt from Truly Social has some great tips on the topic too:


Over to you!

Have you had online complaints? How did you handle them?
I would like to hear from you in the comments, please!

Frithjof Petscheleit

Frithjof is a Digital Media coach, strategist and community manager at BlueBird Business Consulting in Kelowna, BC. He coaches business owners how to reach and engage their audience online. Frithjof is one of the coaches helping participants to get the most of Social Media Camp 2017.

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