Try as you might, your B2B brand can’t escape negativity online. No brands can. And no matter how great your B2B brand is, there’s no satisfying every customer.
Making matters worse, our digital-first culture means your customers hide behind their screens. Once the slightest ball is dropped, they whip out their phones and comment on your Facebook or Google page for all your followers to see.
So your B2B brand will have to deal with negative reviews and comments online. It’s a given in our world today. But how? We have your script to address online naysayers and keep negativity at bay.
Sorry, You Can’t Ignore Your B2B Brand’s Online Presence
As you know, literally everything is online these days. There are lots of digital trends you need to stay on top of, which is why we took the liberty of breaking down the recipe for an ever-more-important online reputation.
First, know that potential customers more often than not vet your B2B brand online before interacting with your brand. Google and Facebook are the biggest online review platforms, but there are others out there.
Even if you’re not paying attention to what customers are saying about your brand online, everyone else is. And if you have little or no online presence, prospective customers might just pick another, more engaged B2B company to do business with. Admit it, a business with hardly any online activity looks fishy these days.
Another reason to keep tabs on your B2B brand’s internet activity? The negative reviews spreads like wildfire. People love a good story. It doesn’t even have to be true! If you don’t take control of your B2B brand’s online profile, you could be overtaken by negativity while your back’s turned.
5 Steps for Responding to Negative Comments about Your B2B Brand
You know you have to own your B2B company’s online reputation, and you’re bracing yourself for the inevitable upset customer. When you spot a Negative Nancy, here’s what you should do.
1. Take Negative Comments Seriously, NOT Personally
It can be really disheartening for internal teams to see a negative comment online. Your B2B brand is your baby. We understand why you don’t want to believe the bad stories on your Facebook page or Google profile. It’s all too easy to:
- Dismiss the negative comment as ridiculous and unfounded, or
- Get extremely defensive and start a battle with the naysayer.
Dismissing the comment won’t make it go away, and leaving it without a response looks bad to potential customers reading up on your B2B brand. And don’t even get us started on the perils of becoming defensive. Not only will your other followers see you acting (in their view) tactlessly, the commenter is unlikely to cower. Instead, you’ll fan the flame, compounding the negativity on your page.
Instead, take a breath, read the comment seriously, and assess the situation with as little bias as possible. This is where an outside partner with thick skin and no personal attachment to your business can help.
2. Decide on Potential IRL Next Steps
If you’ve assessed the bad comment and it seems legit — meaning the poster has good reason to be upset — you need to decide on how you’ll handle the situation internally.
Say an specific employee at a dealership is mentioned in multiple negative reviews. Not only do you need to approach said employee to fix these issues, but also address this publicly saying you’re working on the problem. Which leads us to our next point.
3. Address the Scorned Customer Publicly First
Pay attention, this part is important: Your response to negative feedback online does not change, even if you determine the poster’s comment was unwarranted.
If you find out the poster’s comment is genuinely erroneous, you won’t have to have that awkward conversation with the employee mentioned in the above scenario. But don’t tell the poster that. Again, don’t fan the flame. Diffuse the situation with as few comments as possible.
You do need to respond back to the poster’s comment publicly, on your page. Why? Because when potential customers research your B2B brand, a lot of them will filter reviews to look at the one and two-star comments. If you’ve never answered a negative reviewer, it looks like you don’t take bad experiences seriously. And the reviewer got the last laugh.
Here’s a good wya to approach reviews publicly:
“This is not the experience our company wants you to have with us. We just sent you a PM so we can get to the bottom of this. Thank you for your transparency and we look forward to hearing from you.”
This shows your other followers that you plan to right the wrong, and that the negative experience is atypical. It’s simple, doesn’t put any blame on the customer, but nor are you apologizing given you don’t know the entire context of the situation. Neutrality is key here.
4. Slide into the Negative Reviewer’s DMs ASAP
As soon as you can, get the negative reviewer to move into private messages to avoid making a scene for all your followers to see.
When you PM a poster, ask them to explain their experience in more detail so you have all the intel you need to improve, if necessary.
No matter how you feel about the situation, it’s best to offer an olive branch. Send them some swag, or connect them with a salesman you know will give them a great brand experience.
5. Report Problematic Comments to the Internet Authorities
Look, you can’t report any old negative comment to Google or Facebook to remove. They don’t care if it hurts your feelings.
But if there are horrible posts that use hate speech, violence, prejudice, etc., you should absolutely send those up the flagpole for review and (hopefully) removal. Don’t let that kind of slander live on your page in perpetuity.
Kill Your B2B Reviewers with Kindness
Negative reviews are unavoidable, and now you know how you should respond to them. You can also work to set a positive tone online to lessen the impact of the negativity.
Remind customers and prospects of what your B2B brand stands for. And reward followers who respond kindly by answering them with a simple, “Thank you!”
As much as you can, nurture highly-engaged brand ambassadors. They’re the ones who will come to your defense against the negativity.
Sometimes internet trolls need to be reminded there’s a real person (you) on the other side of the screen. Filling your pages with positivity and real human responses might be all it takes to scare off Danny Downers hoping to remain anonymous behind their phones.
At the end of the day, you also have to remember that everyone online is a person IRL. Try treating them as if they’re standing in front of you. You might be surprised that you get good out when you put good in.