There are many great things about the internet: online shopping, online gaming, memes, gifs, Reddit, Yahoo Answers, that video of Kelsey Grammer falling off a stage, and Neopets, naturally. With the right tools and the right people, the internet can also give people a voice, and be used to connect, empower, and humanize communities.
But like all good things, the internet also has a dark side, or as you may know it, the comment section. The comment section is like if Pennywise and the bride of Chucky had a baby. Now, of course, there are people who use the comment section for positive reviews, useful feedback, and constructive criticism. But there are many more who use the comment section in the wrong way.
Before responding to a negative comment online, it is important to differentiate between those two groups of people because your reply is not just for the commenter but for all the people who will see it, and one of them could be a potential customer.
Note that although there are advances in the internet world like block buttons, delete buttons, and even plugins that allow you to hide comments, there is also immediacy and the ability for internet users to screenshot a negative review and share it via social media.
Keep reading for our top 4 tips for responding to negative comments (even when they emerge as a screenshot, like a Phoenix rising from the ashes, or Kelsey Grammer getting back up after that fall).
1. Be Respectful
Yes, even to the internet trolls who will call you names, attack your brand, and even resort to cyberbullying (the internet is a scary place; stay in school, kids).
Reading a less than positive comment about yourself, your brand, or your products or services can make you defensive and compel you to reply with an accusatory tone, or deliberately try to offend the reviewer. Although it will be hard, try not to take the review personally or allow it to elicit a negative emotional response from you. Instead, try to understand the problem the reviewer is having with your product or service, and offer help. If there isn’t a real problem and the reviewer is just being mean, reply with respect still, keeping in mind that everyone with access to the internet can see your response.
2. Be Concise
Don’t get into a long thread or argument of “who said what” and “who did what” with your reviewer or use your response as a tool to have a debate and challenge opinions. Formulate a response that is appropriate and succinct, and encourage the reviewer to contact you or your customer support team directly if need be. Whatever you do, please don’t try to have the last word by continually replying until the reviewer gives up. Don’t be that person.
3. Be Responsible
It may not be pleasing to admit but there will be situations where your product or service will present a customer with a problem, and the right thing for you to do is take responsibility. Don’t try to make excuses or exempt yourself from the issue. It’s completely okay to humanize the issue, acknowledge that a mistake was made, and apologize. Be honest and take ownership for the inconvenience that the reviewer may have had to endure. After all, nobody’s perfect. Well, nobody except Beyoncé.
4. Be Discerning
Have you ever read the comments underneath a YouTube video? If you haven’t, don’t start now; keep your innocence, fair one. But if you have, then you know how easy it is for people to build upon another user’s comment until that one comment becomes a super-comment that can fly and do stunts and take over the world. What we’re trying to say is this: Don’t give the super-comment power. Don’t fan the flames. Don’t stoke the fire. This may be an unpopular opinion but not every comment should be responded to. And remember young padawan that the internet has eyes and is always watching.
What are some of your tips for responding to negative feedback online? Share them with us in the comments below or chirp at us on Twitter!