Dealing With Negative Feedback Online

Reading the various articles about how companies manage their online image has been fascinating but in particular I really enjoyed this blog post from a senior librarian at the National University of Singapore.  The level of proactiveness he takes in responding to complaints from the library’s patrons is amazing and is a great example of how a group can use social media to turn complaints and negative press into something beneficial to the group.  They had patrons tweeting about various problems, were able to resolve the problem, contact the patron and end up with the patron praising the library in actually listening to their concerns.

I think what is key when dealing with negative things being written about your company online is to keep in mind that it is almost impossible to take back anything you say.  So in a majority of situations don’t return with a nasty comment.  If there is a valid complaint or a negative comment that can be counteracted with helpful information then that should be included in a polite response.  If the comments are just downright outrageous and has no reasonable response it’s usually best to ignore the comment or just respond with a “thank you for your comment” statement.  Like I mentioned above responding in a constructive manner can actually work to a company’s advantage if you are able to resolve someone’s issue and turn that person into a promoter of your service or product.

In my own personal experience I found this to be very true in dealing with my local library.  I often was not able to find the materials I wanted and happen to comment about it on Twitter.  Much to my surprise I received a tweet back with a solution to my problem  and a few other tips about things I did not know about my library’s services.   I was impressed with the quick response and while always a public library supporter I do try to go out of my way to promote my library on my book blog and on Twitter.

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5 Responses to Dealing With Negative Feedback Online

  1. Dare To Be Social says:

    Nice story and very true there is no sense in having a way to talk to patrons and hear them, if you aren’t going to take action. Very awesome to hear that its working properly and that they are using social media to there benefit! They will have loyal customers that way! Thanks for sharing.

  2. I also enjoyed reading about the wonderful assistance the NUS library provided to its users by scanning Twitter. I think the proactive example the library took not only assisted vocal patrons but also assisted in marketing the library to other individuals.

    As you said, “responding in a constructive manner can actually work to a company’s advantage if you are able to resolve someone’s issue and turn that person into a promoter of your service or product.” On the flip side if a complaint is just a nasty comment it may be better to act as the bigger person and not say anything at all. At work, I’ve learned that some people just want an excuse to argue back and forth and that being silent can be the greatest victory of all. By remaining silent or responding with a thank you message, the nasty comment will disappear and other users will see that your brand does not indulge in petty arguments but, instead, focuses on truly assisting individuals.

  3. Dreadlock Librarian says:

    Hmmm, I agree that “responding in a constructive manner can actually work” but I’m not so sure about the silent part. That leaves me with the impression that if someone is upset about a service (or lack of) there comments were not valid and that the business brushed them off with the “thank you for your comment” remark. Though I did not read the article that you mentioned, wouldn’t it be better for the business to have that person contact them by phone or other means to help resolve the matter? If the complaint is not valid, chances are they won’t take the next step but if it is, there is an opportunity to fix it.

    • dsuzuki says:

      I think if someone is having a valid problem with a service then the company should try to resolve it but I often see in blog comments especially there are people out there who are simply out there to pick a fight. There is no reasoning with them and replying just starts a circle of unhelpful comments. For example, I was reading a post about how this one person thought romance novels were substandard works and that it was a sign of an illiterate country, these authors should be ashamed of purposely writing substandard books, etc. There were other comments refuting the statements or asking for evidence that supported his statements but he would just continue along the same vein. At a certain point I think it’s not worth continuing the argument.

      • mamamikala says:

        Sometimes the comments or suggestions are so outragous and obviously attempting to start a soapbox arguement, that to make any comment besides the equivalent of “thank you for letting us know your opinion” will result in more negative comments. This is true in person and in the comments online. Luckily, the library I work at rarely gets these type of negative comments online, but we often get them in person. Unfortunately, all the ones I can think of right now are very person specific, so I don’t have any examples. I do agree that libraries may want to be a little more creative than “thank you for your comment” since that seems more like a cut and paste answer that a computer could’ve posted (even if the library posts an equivalent statement).

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