3 Tips for Dealing with Online Backlash

Every company with a substantial online presence is bound to acquire its detractors and occasional haters. Preventable online disasters after a bad review, a viral attempt to disgrace you or a social media pile-on can be a hard thing to bounce back from.

There’s a lot you can do to manage a situation like this. Three steps to move forward: 1. Act quickly and share information.

1. Respond to Negative Comments Quickly


When brand ‘rage’ hits, internet backlash can quickly get out of hand if a brand’s response is not quick enough. It is important that businesses have a clear-cut response policy, and make this clear to staff, so any negative comments can be dealt with efficiently and professionally.

A measured and prompt reply to a bad review tells the prospective booker that he/she takes feedback from customers very seriously, and indicates that the brand is apologetic for a substandard experience, yet is readily committed to sorting out the issue.

In the same vein, once the problem is resolved the drama must not end: the reply to the comment must be another public post, detailing what the business did to set things right with the customer. It communicates to other consumers that the business is serious about customer satisfaction, and certainly not shy to admit when it messes up. A destructive comment can be swept away as a result, and general users of the site will probably end up being more loyal customers in the long run for having witnessed how the business handled the situation. What will this communicate to inside jokesters and trolls who enjoy provoking businesses? That this particular business is not going to take kindly to their little games of internet warfare, that attempts to cover up problems will not stand and that general users of the site will need to do something else with their time other than lording over the stupid employees of stupid companies. Comments should be deleted only when absolutely necessary. The business should only take the conversation off ground zero if the customer continues his where’s-my-beef campaign or begins to reveal the minutiae of a nasty divorce. If this is the case, the company should take the conversation offline and hash things out privately with the unhappy customer.

2. Be Honest

Backlash is a challenging component of operating a business in the digital age. People can voice their negative or less-than positive feedback about anything. When you have a negative and visible presence online, things will happen. This is true whether the negative content is justified or a complete fabrication.

Backlash is almost inevitable for companies and brands. When backlash strikes, we must react, or attempt to mitigate, respond, or take action.

Obviated by one of the main inputs into the process – earnest with their customers. A lie will make it harder, and can escalate into an enduring brand taint (recall how Nordstrom’s pull of Ivanka Trump products was seen as politically driven and forced the company into an uphill fight).

The second version of ‘honest’ behaviour is apologising when it’s warranted. Organisations that say they didn’t ‘do’ anything to cause the hot-seat they’re on or that trot out boilerplate responses come across as duplicitous and uncaring.

Honesty and apology are crucial to surviving an online backlash, so that the business conveys to its customers that it is taking a problem seriously and taking whatever steps might be necessary to address it: a public apology, or even closing stores to train staff about racial bias. Whenever tactics such as these are engaged, the negative effects of the backlash will be limited – and in some cases these tactics can turn the backlash into a positive branding campaign.

3. Don’t Ignore Negative Comments

While these complaints demand the kind of seriousness that you’d expect, it also needs to be balanced with not overreacting and doing something rash that could further hurt your business. In this respect, social media has given consumers increased power and businesses need to be more aware than before of what people are saying about them on the web. If possible, businesses might want to think about getting Google Alerts to monitor comments.

Reply to these comments with politeness and respect and you will convey that you care about your customers – and curb the impact of the backlash.

You must also bear in mind that the customer is always right. If a person has a valid complaint about what you’re selling, then you should do whatever you can to rectify that complaint. This might mean giving them money back, or replacing the product. It could simply be apologizing for the inconvenience.

But if you still feel that a customer is trying to make trouble for your business, then it’s best to take the discussion offline. A simple response that says: ‘Please contact me directly so that I can understand this and discuss/fix/take action’ will show that you are serious about resolving the situation, and stop it from becoming a public show.

Author: sonal gupta

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