doubledawnwriting

Advice for better writing and marketing

The Best Way to Handle Critical Comments Posted Online

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A blog is a useful tool to keep the lines of communication open with consumers. However, if it’s not properly managed, it can create a poor reputation for your business.

Your company blog is a forum to offer advice, links to useful sites and keep your client base updated on changes in your company. It also allows your business to gain valuable insight into your market. Consumers who offer feedback and comments will give your company a comprehensive look into the perspective of the purchasing public.

How Do You Handle Critical Comments?

Deleting spam from your blog commentary is perfectly acceptable. However, deleting critical comments is detrimental. It gives the consumer a sense that your business is arrogant and doesn’t actually have concerns about building good customer relations.

Seeing a nasty or unfavourable comment from a consumer can invoke an angry reaction. (Anger tends to attract anger). Hastily posting an angry response diminishes your professionalism and actually offers validity to the customer’s upset.

A better reaction: validate the customers feelings and encourage a solution.

Take some time to really think about what the comment is saying. Most of the time, an angry customer just wants to be heard and validated. Unfortunately, many companies seem to have implemented an anti-apology policy. The fear of admitting any type of wrong-doing has taken over as the new mantra, replacing “the customer is always right”.

Taking the attitude that the company is never wrong sends an inappropriate message (even when you are 100% in the right). It’s not about right or wrong, it’s about changing how the customer feels.

Apologize for the Upset Without Apologizing for the Policy:

Don’t run from the apology. In fact, you will garner respect from every consumer who reads your response if you acknowledge the customers feelings. A good response to a customer complaint is to first and foremost, humble yourself with an apology.

That doesn’t mean admitting defeat. It doesn’t mean breaking the rules. It does, however, mean acknowledging the customers feelings. “I’m sorry you feel that way” and “I’m sorry to hear you’ve had a bad experience” are two perfect examples of your sincere dedication to making the customer happy.

Encourage In-Depth Communication:

Take the bull by the horns when it comes to a disgruntled customer. You certainly don’t have to settle the entire issue in the comments section. Follow your apology with a olive branch. “I would like to hear more details, can you please call 1-800-456-XXXX and ask for Jane.”

Not only does this move the conversation offline, but it gives the rest of the consumers reading the comments a chance to see what type of company you actually are. Rather than brush off the customer, you have validated the concern and offered them the opportunity to tell their story. Furthermore, once you have the person on the phone, it’s easier to neutralize the anger and resolve the misunderstanding.

The Worst Responses:

Never reply to anger with anger. Be the professional. Once you’ve posted a comment on the internet, it’s there forever. Take a few minutes to gain perspective and don’t take angry critiques personally. Responses sent in haste can haunt your business for years to come. Before you put anything in writing ask yourself – what if this goes viral?

Never blindly recite company policy. It’s cold and impersonal and will only aggravate the situation. Again, it’s like saying the company is never wrong. If you can speak with the customer on the phone, you can explain the reasons behind the decision. The verbatim “this-is-the-policy” response never works.

Last, and probably most importantly, be willing to listen. By listen, I mean don’t interrupt, interject or try to defend your company’s position. Wait for the customer to tell their entire story. It can be harsh listening to a complaint, but allow the customer to fully vent their frustrations. Take the high road and don’t get pulled into an argument.

Not only does active listening show respect, but it brings you 80% of the way to solving the problem. More often than not, the customer just wants to tell their story. Even if you don’t have a solution or can’t fix the problem, listening, being respectful and valuing the person’s business are often all it takes to resolve a customer’s unhappiness.

 

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