We’ve all been there. Someone says something horrible about your business after you’ve worked so hard to serve them well. You stare at your screen and just wish they had said it to your face. So what do you do about negative feedback?

Negative Feedback? Follow these tips!

Stop. Collaborate and listen. Social media is a great way to keep in touch with your customers and in this day and age you really can’t afford to not have an online presence. But using social media also makes it much easier for people to post negative feedback and say things they would never dream of saying to your face.

Nobody is immune to negative feedback and when it comes to your business, receiving and dealing with feedback appropriately can have a real impact on how your customers (existing and potential) perceive you.

In this post, we’ve put together some tips for managing feedback in a way that benefits both you and your customers.

Take a step back from the negative feedback

When someone says something negative about you or your business, your instinctive reaction will be to defend yourself. As hard as it may seem, taking a step back and removing your personal feelings and emotions from the situation will provide the best outcome.

While you should deal with all feedback as quickly as possible, taking that 30 minutes to cool down and gain composure (as well as offloading to a third party, let’s be real) means that you can formulate a clear and rational response.

Identify their issue

It’s important to identify if what the customer is saying is a legitimate concern/complaint so that you can respond accordingly. This is a great opportunity to win that customer back and show your other customers that you take their concerns seriously. Proving to your customers that you can listen to, accept and handle negative feedback appropriately builds trust and confidence in your business.

There are four main types of negative feedback:

  • An error caused by the business
  • A misunderstanding or miscommunication
  • Negative comment/experience
  • Spam/trolling

When a customer reaches out with something negative to say, it’s important to understand the frame of mind that person is in. More often than not, that person will have had a bad experience and is feeling frustrated or ignored. They will be wanting to share or vent that frustration with the hope of a resolution.

Don’t be afraid to dig deeper into their experience by asking to communicate with them directly in a more private setting. Giving the person the opportunity to voice their concerns can be a great learning experience for all involved.

Some things to think about

  • Are they an existing customer of yours or a potential customer?
  • Are they offering constructive criticism?
  • Can you leverage their complaint to improve an area of your business?

Down with the trolls

There will be of course be those that just want to elicit a reaction by posting unnecessary, irrelevant or just plain hateful comments.

Shannon Harris, better known as shaaanxo on YouTube, has had to deal with a lot of negative feedback while taking her YouTube subscriber count from 0 to 1.6 million in the last few years.

“I find negative people are usually just leaving comments in hopes to spark controversy or an argument,” Shannon says. “Replying to them gives them exactly what they want – attention.”

“Constructive criticism isn’t in the same boat though, I appreciate that. There is a difference between saying “you look like a hideous clown” and saying “I don’t like this makeup look on you so much, have you tried it with a different lip colour?”

People who aren’t adding to the conversation and are just there to cause drama get blocked and deleted, Shannon continues.

“If I simply ignore them and do not delete/block, I often find other followers of mine will stick up for me, which only ends up with THEM being in an argument with the other person. It also usually ends up with people trying to stick up for me by retaliating the insult at the hate poster, and I don’t agree with that.”

Trolls aren’t after a resolution or an answer. They will never be satisfied, and they thrive on the drama of the situation. If a customer refuses to meet you halfway, know when to draw the line and disengage.

Offer an apology, if required

Trolls aside, recognising and addressing the issue at hand is the best plan of attack. And if your customer has been wronged then you need to acknowledge this.

Every situation will be different and should be handled accordingly, but by treating every customer with respect, you’ll come out on top. Honesty and sincerity are the best policy in this situation, as an insincere apology can turn an already frustrated customer in to angry customer. Take the time to make sure the customer knows that you’ve heard their complaint and that you’re willing to work with them to resolve it.

negative feedback

Set an example

When you create a social media profile, you are building a community of potential and existing customers around your business. When people aren’t polite within that community, they’re not adding to the positive atmosphere you’re cultivating.

Shannon’s advice on this is simple. “I once read a good quote about ‘haters,’” she says. “I can’t remember exactly how it went, but it talked about how you wouldn’t let a rude person stay in your home. You wouldn’t invite them in, you wouldn’t want them near your family. So why isn’t it the same online?

Let your customers know what sort of feedback is appropriate and caution those who aren’t playing by the rules. Set a policy for dealing with negative feedback and comments and stick to it. It’s your house and your rules.

This doesn’t mean deleting all negative reviews or comments though – evidence of bad feedback that’s been handled and resolved correctly can actually encourage customer to choose your business.

Encourage your customers to give constructive feedback and give them clear channels and opportunities to do so. More often than not people will turn to social media when they feel as if they have been stonewalled by more traditional approaches.


There will always be people who don’t speak positively about you or your business. The most important thing is to not react and approach the situation rationally. Refer to this guide when you’re in doubt!