If you've been a part of any type of business support group, you would have noticed by now that quite regularly people write about their frustrations with customers. Customers being rude via email or PM and threatening with bad reviews... Customers writing negative comments online in reply to your live content - the customer acting up and saying things they would not say to you in person.
You might even have experienced it yourself by now - depending on how long you've been in business.
Thing is, no matter how perfect you are at communicating or how perfect your product is; as your business or influence grows you attract more people and therefore you are more likely to run into a keyboard warrior.
It is vital you understand the motivation of a keyboard warrior and how quickly things can escalate if you make a wrong turn in your response.
Keyboard warriors are people set on their path of judgement and in-your-face righteousness - literally, no matter what you do. So please never take any abuse on social media to heart - focus on all the positive rather than the one negative!
Below 10 practical tips to deal with negativity from your audience, as a business owner
RE-READ THE COMMENT/EMAIL MANY TIMES
Analyse it and let someone you trust in business read it too!
I've caught myself a few times now where my initial feeling and reply would have been TOTALLY different IF I had not read and re-read something a few times.
Remember it is WRITTEN language we are talking about and some people do not master it really well; come across angry or rude whereas in THEIR mind they are absolutely NOT.
So make sure....
ohh how hard this is when someone is definitely being rude to you - but you know what; if you try to see things from their perspective, it does NOT mean you have to agree. It will help you in your reply though.
Not only that; it shows you are the bigger person and that is NEVER a bad thing.
DO NOT ENGAGE
I know it is easy to feel the need to defend yourself and I am all for being empowered and standing up for yourself. However, when it comes to the internet; it is - most of the time - just better to keep calm.
With 'do not engage' I am not saying ignore it completely (although - why not?!) but if you feel the totally understandable need to reply then do it with grace and avoid ANY words which could be interpreted as an attack. Make sure you use smiley faces, make sure you acknowledge their 'opinion' with respect even if they had none for you!
Rant and rave to the people around you about it but online to the person OR talking ABOUT the person in groups; stay calm. It might be one of the hardest things to do but the good thing about the online world is; you can type, re-read it, and edit a few times before you actually post your reply.
If you need to have a real vent; RING people who 'get' it and talk to them - talking about it is SO different than writing about it - it will help you form a better reply too if you do this first.
Make sure though you don't do this with people who LOVE drama as they will just fire you up more.
You need it to be someone who understands AND gives you some balance in your reply.
STAY AWAY FROM DRAMA
Some people just WANT drama, they need it in their life. So no matter how calm and collected you respond they will take their response overboard no matter what.
Consider replying as calm and balanced as possible and walking away - and use the HIDE COMMENT when you can - it really helps!!
Remember that the people reading will see who is balanced in their replies and who is not.
Make sure you can be proud of your reply.
WORRY ABOUT YOUR REPUTATION FOR THE RIGHT REASON
In business it is far more valuable to customers to see HOW you handle a difficult customer than it is to see only positive. Customers have higher trust in businesses with 20 positive reviews and one bad one than they have in a business with 30 positive reviews only.... but ONLY if the reply to the negative review (by the business owner) is clear, calm and objective.
so if you worry about your business' reputation, forget about this one person - think about all the people reading it and how THEY will feel from your response.
STOP DRAGGING IT IN THE MUD
I know you want to share it, talk about it and your direct family probably doesn't even understand what a negative FB comment means to a business... BUT be very careful where you share it!! Most serious business support groups don't allow naming and shaming anyway (sharing the name and photo of the person) BUT if you leave enough small clues around - obviously - people are going to find what you are talking about.
Watch out for the 'power' of a group and people heading over to the post in question and replying to the customer.
Although they might think they are supporting you - and you might feel great you have such amazing friends; I promise you, you are damaging your brand. Customers reading/seeing it all unfold will feel uncomfortable, worry about commenting in the future as this person was 'taken down' by your 'posse' and therefor you've done more damage than good.
Ohh and let's not forget about the original commenter themselves - you want to know how FAST their experience of being bullied online travels?
PUT IT ON A SCALE
How important - REALLY - is the comment? on a scale of 0-10.... How BAD is it REALLY for your business?
I see business owners get SO upset over customer comments that to me - really - are not THAT bad....
your response to it however ... definitely number 10 on the scale of importance!
DON'T TAKE IT PERSONALLY
This might be one of the hardest things out of this whole list. Usually your business is your 'baby' and any negative commentary strikes you right where it hurts. It probably also 'speaks' straight into the idea that we WANT people to like us and our business.
Unfortunately (but this is actually really GOOD news!) you cannot change what people think. You can do your best to represent your business as well as you can BUT how they see it, feel about it or respond to it can still be the opposite of what you aimed for...
So if you've done everything you can to be professional and you have represented your business with pride, then claim THAT and leave the opinions of others outside of your head and heart.
LEARN FROM IT
EVERY situation like this has some sort of lesson in it - most of the time it's the what the person criticised you for. But there is something to learn; maybe it's the way your original content was written which left room for negativity, maybe how you responded to it could have been better, maybe how you deal with it personally is something you need to learn.
So instead of seeing the negative comment; work hard at being the best you and all you can do is grow from it then :)