Turn negative customer reviews into positive brand interactions and open up a new world of communication with your customers.

Bad Customer Reviews Don’t Have to Hurt Your Brand

Customer Experience Customer Service

Explore five ways to handle negative customer reviews on social media to protect your brand’s reputation and open communication with your customers.

Negative customer reviews only used to travel in one-on-one conversations and letters to the editor in days gone by. Today, bad reviews can turn into viral social media sensations, garnering thousands — or even millions — of views within days or hours.

Nine out of 10 U.S. consumers say their buying decisions are influenced by online reviews, according to a Zendesk report. The report also notes that 58 percent of consumers say they are more likely to tell other people about their customer service experiences now than they were just five years ago, and 45 percent share bad customer service experiences on social media.

Whether your business has a marketing team of one or many, you can’t ignore the challenges every company faces in managing its brand and reputation in the digital age, especially when it comes to negative customer reviews. Here are five ways to handle customer complaints and negative reviews on social media to protect your brand’s reputation:

1. Make It Easy for Customers to Provide Feedback

Many customers leave negative reviews on social networks because they were given the runaround or didn’t know where to lodge a complaint. In fact, 72 percent of consumers said that what made their experience a bad one was having to explain the situation to multiple people. Make sure that your website, invoices and even social profiles give clients direction about who they can contact in order to express dissatisfaction or request a resolution.

2. Proactively Monitor Social Networks

There are dozens of social networks where customers might mention your brand in light of a negative experience, whether your brand has a presence on the network or not. Analysis of a SimplyMeasured.com study about top brands on Twitter found that while virtually all of them use Twitter, only about one third have dedicated customer service handles and a mere 10 percent of those with dedicated handles actually addressed a majority of the brand’s mentions. Customers may not tell you directly before tagging your brand in a post with a complaint, so make sure that your social marketing plan includes a process for monitoring social networks for mentions of your brand.

3. Respond as Quickly as Possible

Frustration, rather than a bad experience itself, is more likely to result in customer dissatisfaction — and frustration compounds with time. Time is of the essence when someone complains about your brand on social media; in fact, 42 percent of consumers expect a response within an hour when they message or tag your brand with a question or complaint on social media. Try to respond as quickly as possible when someone reaches out to your brand for answers on social networks, even if you need to ask for more time to research and resolve their particular problem.

4. Move the Conversation Offline

A back-and-forth dialogue with an unhappy customer on your social brand pages might be the only way to resolve a situation; however, it might be better for your brand’s online reputation if you ask the customer to contact a brand representative directly for complaint resolution. Not only does this show the public your brand is responsive, but it can also reduce further complaints by the dissatisfied customer in subsequent posts.

5. Recognize the Value of Customer Complaints

Bill Gates once said, “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” Using what you learn from unhappy customers to make your business better can directly benefit your brand in the future, but improving your business isn’t the only value you can find in negative social media reviews. Research provided by Ambassador found that customers who receive good service via social networks spend 21 percent more, and 71 percent who have a good experience with a brand’s social media are likely to recommend it to other people.

Social media offers opportunities to brands and their customers alike. Crafting and executing on a social marketing strategy with tactics for effectively handling customer reviews can transform negative interactions into positive ones, helping you protect your brand and grow your business.

Elizabeth Kraus
Elizabeth Kraus

Elizabeth Kraus is a freelance marketing consultant located in the greater Seattle area. Author of 365 Days of Marketing and 12 Months of Marketing for Salon and Spa, she publishes marketing calendars annually for local small business, salons, restaurants, realtors, and others.