How to respond to negative comments online

Whether you are on social media because you recognize their importance or because someone you know has forced you to do so, you will sooner or later (usually sooner rather than later), receive a negative comment.

So there it is, this chain of uncomplimentary words about your dealership on your social media business account. The fact that this comment was made on Facebook, Twitter or Google+ has little importance. The problem is that it exists. Now you have to respond as quickly as possible right?

Well, yes and no.


  1. Step back. Decrease the emotional impact of the comment

In such a situation, it is important to step back and avoid any brash responses. Yes it is frustrating to receive a negative comment, but it takes time to develop a strategy to deal with that comment that will ensure that in the end, we improve our web reputation and more importantly, gain the trust of our online community.

By letting a few minutes or hours pass before responding, we diminish the emotional impact of the situation. Obviously, if the comment questions the safety of your product, you must respond as soon as possible. On the other hand, if this is a comment regarding the quality of service received at your business, you can take the time to consider how best to respond.

You want to avoid making the situation worst with your reply. Remember that your whole community is monitoring your response. It will therefore have to be sensitive, accurate, and able to rectify the situation. It is also possible that your community will take your defense during the time where you are busy determining how best to respond. This is not always the case, but sometimes ..

A little time has passed, and the negative comment is still firmly in place. Nothing has come from your community. The time has come to answer.




  1. Understand the consumer’s intentions

We must begin by analyzing the complaint and understanding its meaning. We must really understand what has angered your client and what he or she wants in return. Sometimes negative comments only serve to blow some steam. Other times, the unsatisfied client may be seeking damages. Also, it can happen that the comment is directed to your other current and potential customers to warn them about your business or your product.

It may also be that the purpose of the comment is not clear. In such case, do not hesitate to ask the commentator for more information. Obviously, this request must be delicate and must reinforce the fact that you are looking for additional information to assist the person who feels offended.

Also, if you do not understand the meaning of the complaint, ask a colleague from another department what he or she thinks. Sometimes an objective opinion from someone who is not informed of the situation can help better understand the problem.


  1. Write!

Once you have understood the why behind the comment, it’s time to answer. Your answer must be professional, putting forward the facts and your understanding of the situation without attacking the person who commented.

Before you answer, check with the department or the franchise that is at the heart of the complaint. The information collected will help you when you answer. For example, if the comment is criticizing the fact that no one is responding to a previous complaint, you must check whether this is the case. If a telephone appointment was set to address the problem, but the client was not at the home, you must know.

Do not hesitate to use names. For example, sign your name in the comment, and mention the name of a person involved in the situation at the dealership, perhaps the person who tried to reach your dissatisfied customer.


  1. Doubt.

Once you have formulated your answer, it is essential to have someone else read it. You must make sure your tone is not too aggressive, and that the response is accurate. When you ask someone to read over your answer, do not give information on what you are trying to accomplish. Just ask the person to read it and give you feedback. Is it too aggressive? Is the comment not precise enough? This is the kind of information you are looking for.


  1. Publish. Watch.

Once your answer is online, you need to monitor more closely your page. The consumer’s response may come quickly, and your community may also react to your answer. The situation will not stop when you publish your response, so you need to carefully monitor its development.

If your answer was not effective, it may be time to call in an external expert, and quickly.