In a world where everyone has a phone, tablet, laptop and every other form of technology in existence nestled in their pockets or clutched firmly in their hands, it is impossible to avoid social media and the internet.

As a business owner or service provider, regardless of how hard you try to please everyone with your amazing business acumen and dashing smile, you will inevitably come under scrutiny online. Whilst you may want to delete any negative feedback that comes your way, because who are they to criticise you? You’re great, right? – simply ignoring and removing negative comments is the worst possible idea. Everyone is online and EVERYONE will see that you tried to sweep the complainant under the rug, especially when they come back even angrier than before. 

However, there is a way you can turn negative feedback into your best friend, and we are here to help you resolve and conquer the so-called haters with three simple steps (yes, just three!).

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First of all, an aggrieved customer will feel they have been personally wronged and so their review or social media comment may appear to be a personal attack on you, causing you to want to immediately argue your defence, and failing at verbal resolution, jump into the ring and go 12 rounds with them… Bad idea!

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Now, whilst time is of the essence in regards to responses to online criticism (research has discovered it is crucial to ensure an initial response is provided within the first 30 minutes) – you firstly must absorb the information, assess the problem being brought up and devise a response. So, sit back, have a cuppa and think about what you’re going to say before you respond… but make it quick! A prompt response will make the aggrieved party feel appreciated and heard, and that’s all any of us want to feel.

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Following a quick initial response acknowledging and apologising to the customer, try to take the issue offline. This doesn’t mean to turn your computer off and cry yourself to sleep, no not at all. Most social media platforms and review websites offer the option for private messaging, therefore contact the customer out of the public eye to resolve the issue. This will give you the opportunity to discuss the issue at length and come to an effective resolution without the prying eyes of everybody else. Once the issue is resolved, respond again to the public comment to ensure future customers can see you’re the world’s greatest employee and have saved the day!

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Finally, it is important to remain professional and polite in your response and to remember the old saying “the customer is always right” – we know you may not think so, but at least pretend yeah? Make sure you respond as yourself and not the company, nobody wants to talk to one of the automated robots you usually find yourself swearing at down the phone whilst the automated voice calmly and infuriatingly tells you to press hash to hear the options again. Also, when possible always offer to compensate the customer if you feel it is warranted, as this will often lead to the complainant giving you and your service another chance to prove that you’re the best out there.

Then, once you have done these three simple steps you will have taken the first steps towards becoming a Jedi master, ready to combat all the negativity on the internet! Or at least the bit which affects you.

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