Killing the Social Review with Kindness


Reputation management online is no longer separated from just your regular reputation.
Negative experiences will always be taken to social channels.

Why? Because if I, like any other social creature on the Internet, have a bad night’s sleep in your hotel, or I was treated rudely at your restaurant or your product failed me somehow, not only do I want you (the company) to hear about my experience, I want others to feel my pain, or, even better, commiserate with me.

So in this grand experiment we call social media, what’s the best way for a brand to deal with this growing wave of highly public negative reviews?

Simple. The same way you should respond to that same complaint in person: With sincerity, with humility and with the intent of winning that incredibly sad and/or angry customer back again. And you do it ASAP. The near-real-time response of an apology, followed by a reasonable remedy is no longer considered novel behavior; it’s the new social norm. It’s expected and deserved.

As simple as that sounds, I’m constantly hearing of horror stories of companies’ social media and community managers, or customer service reps responding to negative reviews saying they are sorry and outright asking for a re-review or the removal of the original disgruntled post. That’s not service or sincerity. That’s manipulation.

Customers don’t owe you because you apologized. Consumers are smart. They know the negative review poorly impacted your overall Yelp ranking, or that a top visited post/review impacts the company in question for search. In fact, that is why many reviews are posted in the first place.

Navigating this properly doesn’t simply protect your “online” reputation. It protects your reputation, period. Performed well, online customer service via social and live chat could work in a brands favor; it turns non-customers into repeat ones, those considering, into believing, it can improve SEO, leveraged into a PR opportunity and serve as a way to introduce new stuff, build a following and generate new leads.

Ultimately though, companies win when social customer service is being honestly and sincerely social. They don’t need to ask for removal of a negative review or post. They should overwhelm it with public kindness or offer a real reason to try their product or services again to the point where I might feel so moved to revise my response.



Magnani is an experience design and strategy firm that crafts transformational digital experiences to delight users and deliver sustainable competitive market advantages for our clients.


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