The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Managing Social Feedback: January 2020

Tips to handling negative and the positive feedback on social media and TripAdvisor.

Remember the days when customers would come to you directly with any concerns or complaints? It was a chance to air their grievances and for you to respond face to face to defuse the situation, and find a solution that works.

While this may still happen, the digital world we now live in has Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TripAdvisor, and Yelp (among others), giving consumers ample opportunities to leave reviews, whether they are good or bad, about their experience at a place of business.  And sometimes, these are much more difficult to navigate than a customer standing right in front of you.

When handled properly, feedback left on social channels can be one of the most positive marketing tools in your back pocket.  A positive review and star rating will show future visitors what they can expect.  And when they happen, negative feedback and how it is properly handled, can show current and future visitors how much you value their concerns and the steps you are able to take to mitigate the issue and make all parties involved satisfied with the outcome.

So what do you do when someone posts a negative review or comment about your business, products, or staff? How do you respond in a way that puts your business and how you handle concerns in a positive light, and won’t deter future customers?

Whether you’re dealing with TripAdvisor or social media, managing negative feedback can be tricky, and how you approach the situation could have an impact on your future business. But honestly – this is an opportunity to allow your business to shine!  How you respond to feedback is an opportunity to turn consumers into raving fans.

Here are some key things you can do to effectively manage feedback in the world of social media.

  1. Always respond

Whether the review is positive or negative – always respond. No exceptions. Don’t just expect negative comments to drift away in the wind and go unnoticed. These days people are more apt to read a TripAdvisor, Google or social media reviews than a website, and often closely review comments when researching destinations to visit. When a business doesn’t respond to negative comments, the impression is given that they are not invested in maintaining good customer service.

  1. Be courteous and professional

No matter how bad the review, don’t take this personally. You are a professional providing a product or service and should respond as such. Always maintain that professional demeanor. This alone can often go far in defusing a situation, and plus, anyone reading the interchange later will see that you responded appropriately. If you aren’t sure if you are being appropriately professional, ask a colleague to read your response first.

  1. Be concerned

Don’t dismiss negative comments, but instead look at whether there is any validity to the comment, and express your concern in your response. This is your chance to get information about what you and/or your staff can do better to meet the expectations of your customers. If you tell your customer that you will be taking an action, DO IT. This is not the place for lip service.

  1. Take the conversation offline

On social media, a lengthy conversation can turn on you quickly. You can easily shut down a potentially ugly situation by asking them to message you privately so you can address their concerns. This approach makes sense from the customer’s and your perspectives – your customer may not realize that airing their negativity on social media is the same as standing in your business and yelling at you. Sometimes it makes them look bad more than it impacts you.

  1. Recognize positive feedback

This is one that’s often forgotten about! So often business owners only respond to the negative reviews, and miss the positive and good news stories that mean a lot to other potential customers who read them. Thank your positive reviewers and respond just as professionally and promptly as you would with a negative review. These people are taking it upon themselves to spread the word about how fantastic you are and should be recognized. Word of mouth marketing is one of the powerful tools you can have!


Try incorporating some of these sample responses into your repertoire:

Thank you for your feedback…

You are telling your customer that you take all reviews seriously and genuinely appreciate the information gleaned from them.

I’m sorry to hear…

Empathizing with someone who genuinely feels wronged validates their feelings and helps to defuse anger.

I understand that this is what took place…

You have already recognized that you are sorry they are upset, and now you are going to clear up any misunderstandings. Briefly, in as few words as possible, reiterate events and how you understand them, but DON’T make excuses. If there is room for improvement on your end, acknowledge it.

I want to assure you this isn’t…

This is where you stress your business and professional ethics for the customer and any others reading the review.

I will be looking into…

You are telling your customer that you will be taking ACTION. This is critical and often lacking in responses. It’s good for customers to know that you appreciate their feedback, and empathize with them, but they also want to know what you are actually doing to correct the situation.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any other issues or concerns or to discuss further…

You are telling your customer that your response doesn’t end with the public review, you’re there for them to communicate with (yes, they should have done that in person from the beginning, but it is what it is).

Sincerely, [insert name and title]

Make sure you put a name to the response. That indicates you are taking ownership of the issue and gives someone a name to refer to.

Hope this helps!


Happy wandering!

Julie Mulligan

OHTO’s Marketing Manager

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