If you manage any online business profile, there is going to come a point in time when you’ll have to deal with:

  • Bad reviews;
  • Angry customers; and/or
  • Trolls

The way you deal with each type of situation affects how people view your brand, what your business stands for, and whether you become an online laughing stock.

In this article, I’ll show you how to deal with all of the above.

What are trolls?

Bad reviews and upset customers are easy to spot, but trolls often slip under the radar and cause havoc on social media, forums, and blog comments.

An Internet troll is:

A person who sows discord on the Internet by starting arguments or upsetting people; by posting inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community with the deliberate intent of provoking readers into an emotional response; or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion, often for their own amusement. – Wikipedia.

It’s important to understand the difference between an angry customer and a troll. An angry customer is acting out because they want a solution to their problem, whereas a troll is not looking for a solution but only wishes to cause disruption.

Dealing with bad reviews

If you receive a bad review, you first need to identify whether the review is legitimate or from a competitor. If you feel it was left by a competitor, you can contact the platform the review was left on and submit a request to get it removed. This doesn’t always work, but you have nothing to lose by requesting it.

If a bad review was sent by a real customer, it won’t be removed.

The good news is that sites like Yelp, Yellow Pages, and TripAdvisor, all allow you to reply to reviews which can be seen by everyone.

Upon receiving a negative review, I advise all my clients to do the following things:

Breathe and relax

You run a business, so receiving negative reviews is part of the game. If you’re the type of business owner who gets angry or frustrated at bad reviews, take 24 hours before you reply, or delegate the task to someone who doesn’t have a strong emotional connection with the business.

Arguing back with customers online is a huge no-no as it only damages your reputation and devalues your business.

Sympathize

Kill angry customers with kindness. Show sympathy for their situation and instead of arguing back, agree with them that you made a mistake.

Apologize

As a business owner you won’t be able to please every customer, and sometimes you’ll get things wrong. When you do, apologize and try to rectify the situation.

For example, this is a template I give clients to use who receive a bad comment:

“I’m very sorry to hear about your experience at our store; I apologize and I will try my best to make it up to you next time. The next time you visit [Business Name], please ask for [Your Name] and I will do all I can to make your next experience better.”

The next person who reads your reply will see that you care about your customers, that you listen to feedback, and that you take action.

88% of consumers read business reviews. Your replies are seen by others.

Make sure you position your business as one that listens and responds to feedback.

Offer Vouchers

Offer a voucher to a customer who gives your business a 1-star review.  When searching reviews, if consumers see a 1-star review they are much more likely to click and read it than a 4- or 5-star review, to see what was so bad about your business.

A good gesture like this might even get them to remove their negative review.

How to Deal With Trolls

Unlike bad online reviews, there are a number of different ways to deal with Internet trolls depending on the situation.

You can:

Ignore

A troll dies as soon as you stop giving them attention. If a social media post has hundreds of comments and a troll makes a snide remark, just ignore it. There are so many replies that their comment is diluted and will hardly be seen by anyone.

If your social media update only has one comment and it’s from a troll, you can do any of the following:

Delete

If the comment from a troll is offensive and could upset your followers, then just delete it and ban them from seeing any more of your updates. Both Facebook and Twitter allow you to delete and block users from seeing your posts.

Note: Only delete comments if you know they are a troll. Deleting comments from upset customers is not advised. If a customer leaves a negative comment, reply with the following:

“We are sorry to hear about your experience. Could you please contact our support team at [email address] and I will make sure we escalate your ticket to be responded to as soon as possible.”

Leading upset customers to a private support channel such as email or telephone is better than showing customers your dirty laundry on Facebook, so to speak.

Reply back with humor

If a troll knows you know they know you know they know, their power is gone.

Get it? Nope, didn’t think so. That’s because I’m trolling you right now.

The point I want to make is this: once you blow the troll’s cover, their power is gone and they die.

Here’s a great example from UK retailer Sainsbury’s replying to a troll tweet wonderfully:

I only recommend replying back with humor if your industry allows for it. For example, if you run an accountancy business or offer legal advice to business owners, using Internet memes or jokes isn’t going to propel your brand or boost your reputation.

If you sell consumer goods or are in the hospitality or retail sector, these types of replies are more accepted and sometimes even encouraged to humanize your brand.

Hit them with facts

If you make a claim about your product/service, trolls love to refute it and call you a liar. In these cases, reply back with facts and source content where applicable.

By replying with sourced facts, trolls quickly disappear into the darkness.

Summary

The best people to manage your business’ online reputation management are employees who spend a lot of time on social media, web forums, news sites, blogs, and social apps.

They will have a better trained eye to spot the trolls from real customers. From their own interactions and observations, they will also know how to correctly respond to trolls and disgruntled customers.

The social dynamic on the Internet is very different than in the offline world. Make sure you have someone on your team who can minimize the tricks played on your business in the years to come.

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