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What do I do when attendees post negative feedback about the event?

It’s not easy dealing with negative feedback about the event you put so much time and effort into. Sometimes, negative feedback can work in your favor if you heed the information and use it to improve your next event.

Before you begin to deal with the negative feedback, you first need to figure out what type of feedback it is. Nowadays, with social media at everyone’s fingertips, it’s easy for people to voice their unhappiness for the world to see without any filters.

You can’t simply take to Twitter or Facebook and begin responding without first understanding what kind of issue your attendee had in the first place. Sometimes negative feedback about the event is more about personal issues than something that was actually wrong at the venue itself. So you need to take a step back and place the negative feedback about the event in one of the following categories:

1- A real issue with the event

You promised attendees a session with Bill Cosby as the keynote speaker and then discovered at the last minute that Bill Cosby was busy on set of a Cosby Show reunion. Obviously the attendee who paid to come and hear Bill Cosby talk is upset and wants the world to know it. So he heads over to each and every social network to air his grievances.

How to deal with the negative feedback about the event:

First and foremost, apologize. If you didn’t follow through on your promises, then you need to own it and make up for it without pointing fingers at anyone else. Along with your apology, offer them free registration to your next event or even a refund (partial or whole) due to their dissatisfaction.

Offer them an explanation as to why the situation turned into what it did. And apologize to them where they communicated their dissatisfaction. If it was on Facebook, apologize publicly and ask them if you can reach out to them privately.

In my experience dealing with attendees who are unhappy via social networks, if done right, you can turn them into your biggest ambassadors with the right approach.

2- Constructive criticism

Oftentimes, attendees who had an issue with a particular part of the event will offer constructive criticism – that is, criticism that comes with suggestions for how to fix the problem. Many attendees, especially loyal ones, will take to social media and email to inform you of the issues they had and how you can improve upon them.

For example, an attendee may not have been happy with the lunches that were offered throughout the congress and may suggest that you up the cost of registration and offer attendees healthier options.

How to deal with the negative feedback about the event:

Thank the attendee for their feedback and let them know that you will look into their suggestions. But it doesn’t end there. Going forward, you will need to touch base with the attendee and let them know about the progress of their suggestion.

Use their suggestion to market the changes you plan to make via eblasts and social networks. This works twofold; you impress the attendee by demonstrating that you take their suggestions seriously, and you make a good impression on prospects and attendees by devoting yourself to the satisfaction of your participants.   

3- Super angry with reason

You messed up, and while it doesn’t justify an all-out mad man attack, you’ve made an attendee angry enough that he or she is taking to social media to let the world know and call you out on it.

For example, an attendee was having a hard time connecting to the Wi-Fi during the event and every time they asked for help, they were given the runaround and never felt like they were important.

How to deal with the negative feedback about the event:

Again, apologize. Be clear on the social networks that you will take every measure to ensure that your staff and volunteers are trained appropriately going forward.

In a situation like this, you will certainly need to offer up some freebie. Whether it be free registration at the next event and the promise that you will personally see to it that they are happy at the next event or sending over a refund (partial or full) with an apology, reaching out and making them feel important will go a long way toward having a loyal attendee.

4- Angry because they are just angry

There will always be a handful of attendees who I will call “spammers.” They will bash your event – whether warranted or not – to get something out of it. They don’t have anything specific to say about the event that contributed to why they’re angry. They’re just lashing out and you are getting the brunt of it.

On social networks, this can go either way. Sometimes your fans and followers become your biggest ambassadors and defend you without you having to do anything. Other times, however, other spammers will get involved and your social pages can turn into a nightmare.

How to deal with the negative feedback about the event:

Craft your apology carefully on the social networks. Make sure that your apology addresses the way they feel and not the actual event itself, since there is nothing that really warrants their general malaise.

If they continue to go on tangents on social media, block or ban them. You cannot continue to be baited by them.

 Need help when attendees post negative feedback about the event?

If you are unsure about how to deal with negative feedback via social media and need help, reach out to me or Rachel at sensov/ event marketing.

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