We live in an age of instant digital gratification, where anyone, anywhere, can share their thoughts with a huge audience at the click of a button. Leaving positive reviews and posting great feedback across social media can be a real boost for any business, but on the flip-side, negative feedback seriously harms a brand’s image. Whether you’re a corporate or agency recruiter, you’ll be susceptible to negative feedback from candidates and employees. Despite your best efforts, you can’t always please everyone, so it’s important to know how to respond to negative feedback online in the right way – here’s how to keep your brand intact and minimise the damage.
Candidates and employees can easily review a company on multiple online platforms such as: Facebook; Twitter; LinkedIn; Google; Job Boards; and Glassdoor. It can be hard not to take negative comments personally, feeling the need to defend your brand – even more so when you feel that the feedback is unjustified.
People are far more likely to shout about a bad experience they’ve had than a good one, so any negative reviews can be disproportionate and not a true representation of what a company is actually like. You may think that just ignoring it, hoping it won’t be noticed by too many people, is a good idea – don’t add fuel to the fire, right? But this will only do more harm to your brand than good. Here’s the best way to deal with it:
Golden Rule number 1 is never ignore negative feedback. This gives the impression that you either don’t care enough to address it, or that you are accepting of this perspective. Worse still, not responding will further enrage someone who’s already upset and angry. Responding makes them feel validated, respected and treated as a human being. A response will also show that as a brand, you care about the people who interact with you, and want to do the right thing.
Time is of the essence here too; the sooner you respond, the better. If possible, having a dedicated person responsible for addressing company feedback is the best option. Make sure that whoever responds does so within a maximum of one day of receiving the feedback.
This takes it out of the public eye and limits the possibility for other people to see and comment on it. Apologise, acknowledge their complaint, and give them the option to discuss the issue further in a private message or over the phone. The response could be something along the lines of:
‘Hi John, really sorry to hear you’re unhappy with your experience. Please send us a direct message so we can get this resolved for you as soon as possible. Kind regards, Susie.’
Though you may feel like biting back and giving someone a piece of your mind, particularly when they’ve been rude or downright obnoxious, you have to take a step back and realise it’s not a personal attack on you. People leave feedback for a reason, to vent their anger, frustration and disappointment. How you respond isn’t about your feelings or opinions, you are representing the entire company and associated brand. Look to pacify the situation and find a solution by remaining professional, polite and positive at all times.
If you get multiple complaints about the same issue, take notice – this should send alarm bells ringing that the problem is not an isolated incident and needs seriously addressing within the business. Work on resolving the problem quickly to prevent more people from being affected and going on to leave bad feedback.
In many cases, by dealing with negative feedback quickly and effectively, and trying to find some sort of resolution, you can turn the situation around to benefit your business. By simply responding, 62% of job seekers said their perception of a company would be improved. When handled well, someone who left negative feedback may be persuaded to remove it and replace it with a positive review.
Regularly check sites like Glassdoor for any fresh feedback, so you can respond quickly to any negative reviews. This proactive approach helps nip issues in the bud and stop things escalating.
A Social Media Policy gives clear guidelines on how a business and it’s employees should behave online. Hootsuite states that having a policy ‘helps safeguard your brand’s reputation and encourages employees to responsibly share the company’s message’. In addition to this, it helps to create a consistent brand image and tone across all channels, and acts as defence against legal or security issues.
Write your policy so that it’s accessible for all employees, so everyone knows what the expectations and responsibilities are regarding negative feedback and how it’s dealt with.
Before doing this, it’s a good idea to test the water with a staff survey. Gauge the general feeling amongst employees before encouraging people to review your company, that way you can flag any negative issues and try to resolve them before people start publicly shouting about your business with your say-so!
Potential candidates are far more likely to trust what current employees have to say about a brand than any polished marketing spiel on your website, so enabling your staff to speak positively about your business online adds credibility to your employer brand.
Having pre-approved templates gives people the confidence to respond to negative feedback in an appropriate way, whilst staying true to your brand’s tone and maintaining a professional image.
Take a common sense approach to using templates; the more complex someone’s review or complaint is, the more input it will require from you. If there are multiple problems raised, be sure to address each issue accordingly.
Negative feedback can really hurt your brand if you don’t deal with it quickly and go about in the right way. Of course, the best advice is to give excellent service to every candidate or customer you deal with, and avoid getting poor reviews in the first place. By following these steps, you’ll keep your employer brand intact, improve people’s perceptions, and maybe even persuade some of the haters to fall in love with your brand!