Social Listening: Why I Love Negative Comments

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WIN13_Pamela_HP_NokiaPhone_01Social media makes it possible for people to easily express their like or disdain for companies in a forum that takes the fear out of commenting. People who normally would smile and say nothing will now grab their cell phone and point out all of a business’s flaws on social media, blogs or review sites. The thought of this can send some business owners and managers into a panic.

In a pre-social world, marketers and business owners could hear nothing but positive comments from their customers and easily assume their business was doing everything right. At the same time they could see their customer pool and revenue declining. Losing customers at the same time that everyone says their experience was good? How does that work?

Polite vs. Authentic

Scenario 1: You’re at a restaurant and your food wasn’t great and the service was just okay. You probably wouldn’t go back, but nothing huge happened to warrant an actual verbal complaint.

When the server comes by to give you the tab and asks how everything was, what would you say?

Scenario 2: You’re at a big box store and have everything on your list except one item, which you can’t seem to find in any logical location. There aren’t any employees around to ask, so you give up and go get in line to check out. The line has built to quite a few people behind you by the time you reach the cashier who asks if you found everything.

Do you ask them to go get the item you’re missing?


In my personal experience it seems the majority of people in a real-life situation will make a polite comment, say everything was fine and leave, making it easy for a manager to misinterpret no complaints for a positive experience.

In the social world, comments are no longer polite, they’re authentic. The authenticity of a comment that comes from a computer screen, instead of face-to-face, gives you an amazing power to understand your customers and their real experience.

The question then comes, what do you do with the negative comments?

  1. Don’t delete or ignore negative comments.

Removing negative comments does nothing but make people more angry and trust you less. The point is to turn around the conversation and leave people with a positive view of your business.

2. Address people’s concerns as soon as you can.

If there is a misconception, clear it up with the facts. If there is a complaint about your service or business, share what actions you will take to make it right. Or if it’s someone who doesn’t understand the reasoning behind a decision, share why things are done that way.

3. Show your customers you genuinely care about what they said.

By using the same canned response (“Thank you for your comment. We will address your concerns and…..”) you’re not showing that you care what that specific person thinks. You need to take the time to address people as individually as possible.

4. Don’t take it personally.

This is probably the most difficult to deal with. Focus on using the information to help your business get better, satisfy more customers and generate more revenue.

And if you don’t think you can change someone’s mind, just remember this; a study done by The Retail Consumer Report found that:

  • 68% of consumers that posted a complaint or a negative comment on social networking sites, about their negative experiences, got a response from the retailer.
  • From that, 18% of them turned into loyal customers and bought even more
  •  33% of them turned around and posted a positive review
  • 34% of them deleted their negative review that they had left earlier.

So unless someone contacts you directly, how do you find these comments? I use Microsoft Dynamics Social Listening which monitors keywords that you set to show you trends, number of posts and percentage of positive versus negative comments in one dashboard. From there, you can drill down into specific instances and comment back.

Microsoft Social Listening monitors the main social sites including: Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, news feeds and the popular blog sites like tumblr. Having access to all of that social information in one place is a great way to make sure that you keep up with what people are saying, positive or negative.

Want to see Social Listening in action? Contact DFC Consultants, a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner.

by DFC Consultants

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