How To Deal With Negative Comments Online

thumbsdownAnyone who runs a website or has a social networking profile has inevitably received their share of criticism. And no matter how many times we get harangued, its never easy to bear a bad review. To help you through such scenarios, here are a few tips on how to deal with negative comments online.

Monitor your mentions

Reproach can come from anywhere online: social networks, blogs, message boards, user-generated videos, and various other corners of the Web. However, you won’t be able to manage them if you don’t know they exist in the first place.

Fairfax Marketing Services offers brand Reputation Management which provides real-time alerts whenever your business is mentioned and our team can do the responding for you to turn a negative review into a constructive conversation and eventually – a positive outcome. There are also free tools like Talkwalker Alerts, Social Mention, and Google Alerts which notify you to respond but cannot respond on your behalf.

Determine if the criticism is accurate

You may be tempted to say sorry immediately after seeing a negative comment/review to nip the issue in the bud, but don’t; not just yet, at least, as it may be construed as an admission of guilt and may make you liable, apology laws notwithstanding.

Instead, you should first verify whether the criticism is true or not. After all, the comment could have just been made by a competitor who’s trying to circulate a nasty rumour.

Acknowledge the problem promptly

A negative comment can escalate quickly and hurt your reputation if you allow it to linger unresolved. Because of this you need to respond to the comment as soon as you have verified its accuracy. Take note that you don’t have to provide a remedy immediately; you just need to acknowledge the issue and say that you’re working on the solution. A swift response shows that you care.

BUT you don’t always have to respond

There’s also a possibility that the negative comment was made by a troll, who is simply trying to get your attention and/or provoke you. There are actually people out there who enjoy causing trouble so sometimes, the best way to react is to do nothing. Responding only encourages trolls to continue what they’re doing.

Bring the discussion somewhere else

If you’ve confirmed that the criticism is valid, offer to take the communication in a more suitable setting like through customer chat, or if possible, over the phone. Aside from the fact that it’s more difficult to placate an irate customer in a public forum, a phone call or chat provides more immediate solutions for the customer and makes it easier for you to give more complex details.


You may have a perfectly good explanation for the issue that caused the negative comments. Maybe the vendor ran out of supplies; or perhaps your server broke down. This, however, doesn’t matter to an infuriated customer. Instead of giving excuses:

  • Pay attention to what the customer is saying.
  • Rephrase what they’re saying.
  • Ask questions to have a better grasp of the situation and find out how you can fix it.
  • Understand the issue from the customer’s point of view.

Take the opportunity to show your credibility

When you encounter a negative comment, take it as an opportunity for you to demonstrate your credibility by responding calmly and respectfully. This may be easier said than done, but if you pull it off, it’s an effective way to deal with trolls. More importantly, being composed and respectful will greatly boost your reputation online. Consider this an opportunity to display your best side and a solid business personality.

Apologise and rectify

Finally, make sure you apologise and make amends for any mistakes made by you or a representative of your business. If your product failed, provide a replacement or return the customer’s money. For bad service, consider a refund as well, and include a physical reward, like a gift certificate or coupon to smooth ruffled feathers. Remember, the web never forgets, your response now will (like the original negative feedback) be preserved until the end of time for some future potential customer to uncover.

Digital Marketing Services, Social Media