All businesses want client feedback to help improve service delivery. Positive feedback, negative feedback – as long as its genuine feedback, everybody – GOOP Digital included – wants praise or suggestions on how to make their business better or to identify where they’ve fallen short of clients’ expectations.

But while businesses want feedback, they also worry about feedback, particularly negative online critiques where malicious reviewers hide behind cloaks of anonymity and their own shortcomings to fire unwarranted criticism or untruths into cyberspace. Such trolls are a sad downside of the amazing technology we have available today to market ourselves to a worldwide audience.

So, how do you handle negative or unwarranted reviews and mitigate the damage to your business’s reputation? Well, read on for our advice and be assured that we back up our advice with first-hand experience.

Remember, no-one is exempt from trolls and our advice is based on how we handled a one-star review on the GOOP Digital Facebook page.

To provide a little background, let’s set the scene. The Facebook review was puzzling. There was no comment, simply a one-star rating. A quick check of our records followed by a staff discussion revealed none of our team had ever dealt with the reviewer. Consequently we suspected foul play but responded to the review to be on the safe side. Never ignore a review, even if you suspect it’s a troll. There’s always that chance – no matter how slight – the reviewer is an unhappy client with a genuine grievance.

Despite our offer of assistance and appeals for contact we didn’t get a response from our Facebook critic so we looked into what we could do about the potentially harmful review.

Unfortunately the news wasn’t all that good! Facebook allows businesses to report illegitimate ratings but will remove the rating only if there is a comment attached to the review. In short, it means that if you receive a spiteful or malicious low-star rating with no comments, Facebook won’t do a thing.

Facebook’s unwillingness to help businesses reinforces the need to make sure you respond to bad ratings and reviews with an offer of help and an appeal for reviewers to contact you privately via phone or email so you can discuss his or her concerns. That way viewers can at least see what you’ve done to address the issue and also see that you regard feedback – and your business – seriously.

You could also provide feedback to Facebook about the inadequacies of a system that doesn’t allow the removal of misleading untruthful star ratings. With enough feedback Facebook might actually do something, and judging by the comments thread of the help section on Facebook there are already a lot of businesses who have been the victim of online trolls and are appealing for action.

Tips for responding to social media trolls

  • Respond publicly in a friendly and positive manner. Comment on the review and ask for the reviewer to contact you privately via phone or email.
  • If the person has repeatedly trolled your social media account with negativity and misleading comments, you can respond with facts that disprove their comment.
  • In some cases, humour is an effective tactic to diffuse tension.
  • Tread carefully if you’re thinking about having the review deleted. That course of action can provoke troll into leaving even more damaging reviews.
  • Encourage legitimate clients to leave reviews.

Facebook tends to display reviews by ‘most helpful’ – so if you consistently receive good reviews, this will outweigh the one exception and shouldn’t negatively impact your online reputation.

Please contact us for more social media marketing tips for your business.

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