When McDonald’s announced their mascot Happy, an anthropomorphic Happy Meal box with teeth, it quickly became one of the hottest –and most derided – stories of the day for looking “terrifying” rather than cuddly. McDonald’s issued a level-headed response later, and noted that “social media is a great place to have a conversation and express an opinion, but not all comments reflect the broader view.”
McDonald’s later followed that up with these humorous tweets:
Meanwhile at Happy Headquarters… pic.twitter.com/ljcoUIb5PF
— McDonald’s (@McDonalds) May 20, 2014
Clearly, McDonald’s knows how to roll with – and take advantage of – the punches, because when it comes to social media and online comments, you’re all but guaranteed a certain proportion of negative response. How to deal with the negative feedback? The McDonald’s story and their adroit handling of the reaction is the perfect time to revisit (and update) Johna Burke’s top tips for dealing with negative comments online.
1. Stay calm. Don’t let your adrenaline (fight or flight urge) get the best of you and cloud your judgment.
2. Respond publicly. Mirroring the original format is very powerful. If the original announcement was made on Twitter, put out a public Twitter response; same goes with any other platform. Domino’s Pizza’s viral video crisis and response in 2009 is an excellent case study.
3. Be courteous. Offer acknowledgement or an apology, whichever is most appropriate, with sincerity and gratitude for the opportunity to address the matter. If you run into a troll, refrain from calling them out until you’ve done your due diligence on their misdeed or erroneous feedback.
4. Provide resolution. In some cases this means a refund or some other compensation for the problem. In other cases this will mean “agreeing to disagree” on what is fair and what you can do based on the feedback.
5. Reflect. Consider the following options:
a. Why did this person make their grievance public?
b. Was this the only forum available to address the concern?
c. What are the opportunities you have to improve your product or service to strengthen your relationship with all of your customers?
d. Did you resolve the issue?
6. Be thankful. REMEMBER: Negative can be positive. Your public response will demonstrate your commitment to your clientele. Also, when a customer is talking to you, even if it’s negatively, you are still communicating and can improve the situation.
And, as McDonald’s has shown, a little humor can go a long way.
How do you respond to negative comments, and what recommendations do you have for dealing with them?