Nobody likes to get negative feedback, but it’s also not possible to please everyone (no matter how lovely a person or a brand you are). When you do get negative reviews (and you will…everyone does), there are right ways and wrong ways to handle it. Handling negative reviews the right way will make you look even better in your audience’s eyes; handling them the wrong way can cause you to lose customers. Handling negative reviews the right way all comes down to doing what your mama taught you to do.

Respond Quickly & Professionally

If you grew up in the south and you did something wrong (and even if you didn’t, sometimes), your mama would make you apologize right away. You need to do the same thing on social media. Hopefully you receive notifications anytime someone comments on one of your posts. When you see a notification pop up, check it out. If it’s a negative review, before you hit reply:

  • Consider the situation and the complaint
  • Drop everything you’re currently doing and review what you must to respond efficiently
  • Respond quickly…ideally within 15 minutes

The more responsive you are, the better. A grumpy customer doesn’t like to wait. Responding quickly exceeds their expectations for service.

While you should apologize for the inconvenience, the issue, the wait…whatever, you should do so sincerely. A perfunctory, “I’m sorry this happened to you,” is going to seem as disingenuous as it sounds.

Resolve the Issue & Don’t Make Excuses

Thus, when you apologize for the situation, own the issue, whatever it is….even if it is not your fault. That can be the hardest lump to swallow. As a kid, were you ever forced to apologize to a sibling for something they did? That’s a hard thing to do. It doesn’t get any easier when you’re a business because you don’t like for your other customers to think or to know you screwed up somehow.

Here’s the thing though…everyone knows that no one is perfect. You’re going to make mistakes. Mistakes don’t make the man or the brand; how the man or the brand handles the mistakes is what’s defining.

This means you need to do whatever it takes to resolve the issue even if it costs you a little bit of money. When the situation is complex and takes more than a verbal exchange to resolve, it’s best to carry on in a direct message conversation. Keep in mind your professional communication and resolutions skills still need to be at their best because your customer has no obligation to not copy / paste the discussion and blast it on social media.

No Matter What Happens, Kill Them with Kindness

So, even if you are in a direct message thread or are responding to negative reviews for all the world to see, just remember that you’re not just responding to one negative reviewer; you’re responding to everyone who is watching the interaction. You are being judged. You are responding to those watching just as much as you are to whoever slapped down the original beef.

This means, too, that you should resist the urge to be snarky at all costs. Just because Chrissy Teigen and Anna Kendrick can get away with being sassy to their critics doesn’t mean that you can. Negative reviews aren’t the time to be flip or sarcastic or humorous; they are the time to whip out your best customer services skills and to show your broader audience how compassionate and responsive you are to all of your customers. Like mama said, kill them with kindness.


Social media is an important aspect of your brand’s image, so when those pesky negative reviews happen, it’s important that you respond to your audience like a pro. If you need help navigating the social media landscape contact us, The Storyteller Agency, and let be your guide.

Comment