And breathe…

So you have woken up to a bad review on your Google page or a negative comment on your business Facebook page. The natural reaction is to panic, batten down the hatches and go into DEFCON defensive mode 3.

Once the dramatic fog has settled and you have got a grip of the situation, which way are you going to respond? Do you have a defined policy for dealing with complaints in the public domain?

Why has this person given a negative comment?

If you have handled a situation badly then it’s time to face the music. Be honest to the individual – and public if they have complained for all to see. Be fair, apologetic and use common sense when dealing with the complaint. No person or business is 100% perfect, but if you are seen to deal with the complaint in a good manor it becomes more of a benefit than a negative for prospective customers.

Most likely the complainant has an agenda, for whatever reason. 

I had a situation with a client where their customer planned to discredit them in order to get a discount from them. When their customer challenged them for the discount my client stood firm even when it happened. It’s what you choose to do that has the biggest impact and not theirs.

Remember that the general public can see through individuals who are obviously ‘trying it on’. And the key is to stick to your guns and a pre planned policy on dealing with negative comments.

When the complaint or comment appears, DO NOT IGNORE IT!

1.Don’t panic or make a rash decision.

2. Become a private investigator. Find out as much as possible about them in the public domain.

3. Find out as much about how you have dealt with this person within the business, services and interaction.

4. Make a decision on whether this is a legitimate complaint or someone trying to take advantage.

5. Use your clear and planned-out policy for dealing with the complaint.

Online Reviews (Google & Facebook etc.)

These can seem like the most damaging because there is no way to delete the person’s review. But it is more important to focus on how you deal with the review. If you are honest and use common sense then you can do no more, let the people reading your reply make the judgement. Nine out of ten times they will see that you have dealt with the criticism in a positive way.

Facebook posts are a little easier to control as you can delete and block individuals who are clearly being difficult. But there is a third option of hiding their post. So that only the person commenting can see it and the public can’t. I suggest this one mostly as option 3 doesn’t get their back up when they realise their post has disappeared or the realisation that you have blocked them from the page.

In conclusion, when dealing with a complaint think about how you look at other people complaining. How many times have you taken a Trip Advisor review with a pinch of salt. Or when you see a negative review, look into it in more depth before making your judgement. Other people will the see the review or complaint made against you and your business the same. Being constructively witty works for some service sectors, but not all.

Create a defined policy for dealing with complaints so you and your staff know what to do.