How Do You Handle Online Criticism?

We’ve discussed the role of Passive Social Media (monitoring social media) as a way to gain consumer insight about your company. The most difficult part (by far) is hearing criticism, but one that is important to your overall growth.

The February issue of Inc. has a great story on the social review site Yelp and the impact of consumer reviews on business.  Inc. senior writer Max Chafkin lists the five steps in handling online criticism:

  1. Register – “Registering [on sites like Yelp] allows you to correct inaccuracies, receive alerts when you are reviewed and respond to your critics.”
  2. Breathe – “If there’s no way to respond to a review without being angry, profane or aggressive, don’t do it at all.”
  3. Be Gracious – “Apologize for what the customer didn’t like and offer to make it right.”
  4. Complain – “[Yelp] removes reviews in cases where there is a conflict of interest.”
  5. Avoid The Courts – “If you decide to sue, be ready for more attacks”.

The points Chafkin makes are great for handling negative reviews. It is equally important that you are not so blind to your business that you classify every negative review as wrong.

If you are a restaurant and you get negative reviews every Monday night, is there a staffing issue that needs to be addressed?

Are people frustrated with your return policy?  If so, determine if you need to change your policy or just communicate it better at point of purchase.

If you see the same point come up review after review, recognize the trend and correct it quickly. When you communicate your changes, be sure to give credit to the people who brought it to your attention.

Doing so will go a long way to endear your audience and have them defend you against unwarranted negative comments.

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