Dealing with Negative Press11/30/2015
Have you ever had a poor online review regarding your business? How about an ill advised or negative social media post? It can happen to anyone, and the impact can be devastating if you ignore the problem. Social media can be a great low cost way for a business to reach out to consumers. You can reach large numbers of people with each post or tweet. But if things go wrong as they sometimes will it is important to react thoughtfully and quickly to minimize the potential damage to your business reputation.
Since none of us are perfect it is not all that uncommon for a business to make an inaccurate social media post or a post that offends a group of followers. If the gaffe is an inaccurate post such as posting the wrong date for a grand opening or inputting the wrong time that ticket sales will begin, address the mistake honestly and immediately. Remove or delete the post if possible then apologize for the mistake and for any inconvenience the inaccurate post or tweet may have caused your followers. Do not make excuses or blame others, apologize and move on.
If a post is deemed offensive by a member or group of your followers address the situation quickly and directly. Think your position over carefully before responding and be very careful not to inflame the situation. A brief mea culpa similar to the following may be appropriate.
"I am truly sorry if my post offended anyone, that certainly was not my intent. I would never, knowingly set out to be disagreeable."
Make your next legitimate post as soon as reasonably possible. A post made with in a few hours of your apology may help you and your followers move on.
Poor online reviews should be dealt with in a similar fashion. If you receive a bad review try to determine if the post is legitimate and if so address it quickly. If the review appears to be bogus or trivial, it may make as much sense to ignore the review, especially if you have several other good reviews. You can always use a response like the following.
"We are sorry, but we cannot confirm your purchase (stay, service etc.). Please contact us directly so we can address your concerns to your satisfaction."
If the person posting the review has a legitimate complaint, own it and apologize. Any response should include a statement letting the person know that the problem is or has been addressed. If the review is untrue state the truth briefly without pointing fingers or antagonizing the person making the post. Include an apology for the inconvenience in either case and try to appreciate the fact that the poster is being genuine. Always error on the side of customer service and do your best to address the concern of the person posting the review. A professional concerned response can often generate good will and perhaps even encourage future business. Try something like the following.
"We are so sorry for your inconvenience. We truly appreciate your business and realize a two hour wait is completely unacceptable. We have implemented a new sign in procedure so we can avoid this ever happening again. As a valued customer we would like to make this up to you, if you would contact us directly we will do everything we can to remedy the situation. Thank you once again for your patronage."
You may notice that the response offers a genuine apology, direct recognition of the issue, an explanation of how the problem was resolved and an offer to make things right with the customer. Even if the customer that posted the review never contacts you, your response shows that you care about your customers and their concerns and address problems directly. This makes it easier for others that may be reading the review to consider doing business with you.
If the venue that the review was posted in does not allow you to respond your only recourse may be to encourage satisfied customers to post a review at the same venue. Several positive reviews can drown out one negative comment.