Before the coming of the internet revolution, disgruntled customers had nothing much to do than shoot off an angry letter to the manufacturer. Phone calls were also used to vent their frustration and sense of betrayal. The good part was that this was an entirely personal experience. Other disgruntled customers of the same brand did not know each other and could not present a united protest. The brand dealt with these individual voices of protests in isolation so that word never went public. The internet has ripped down this cloak of secrecy and anonymity. Now, angry customers can yell from digital rooftops and also organize virtual groups to corner a brand into submission.
In other words, you need a strategy now to deal with online negativity regarding your brand. The key is your response to rants and ramblings against your products and services. First, get over the feeling of persecution. Every brand has got its share of detractors. Sometimes, your competitors might simply be cooking up a tempest in a tea-cup to distract your attention and take away your customers. Of course, there are genuine complaints out there as well. Of the hundreds or thousands of customers, a few might feel that they are being taken for a ride. Your first reaction should never be to panic. Read and understand the complaint of the user.
Customers who have already bought your product or service will not create a noise for the sake of it. If you get your customer service department to assess the negative review and offer a solution, the customer will lap it up immediately. That puts an end to the issue! If the complaint is invalid or baseless, you can explain the situation to the user on the same platform. Draft a sympathetic reply, assure the user of your support and explain your stance. By no means should you get into an aggressive mode and try to bury the complaint under your brand’s weight. More often than not, it is not the user’s negative words that pokes bad publicity: it is the poor response of the brand. An honest, transparent approach is what you need in the face of negativity. That disarms your virtual enemies.
Online negativity is here to stay! You need an online reputation management team to track down and address bad press online. Remember: what you respond is more important than the allegations leveled against you!