5 Tips for Dealing with Criticism of Your Business on Social Media

Posted on 30.Mar.2015 by Mike Winters | @amcomcap

iPhone MacBook Air ManIt's a tricky situation. Someone is posting potentially reputation-damaging criticism of your business on social media—maybe negative reviews on Yelp, attacks on Facebook, or trolls on Twitter. It can be tough to receive criticism, but how you handle online criticism can often greatly impact the reputation of your business, so it's best to not blow your cool. As Bill Gates said, "Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning." Here are five tips for dealing with criticism of your business on social media, review sites, and online forums.

1. Monitor your online reputation.

Keep a close watch on any social networks where your business has a presence. This is easy enough for most social networks—for instance, Facebook and Twitter will send you notifications of comments and mentions if you're an administrator of the business page or account. You should also set up Google Alerts for your business name to receive notifications of mentions online, no matter where they might be. Google doesn't pick up everything, but it could pick up mentions of your business in many places that you're not actively monitoring.

2. Decide to ignore or respond.

The Internet is full of trolls—people sitting in safe anonymity behind their keyboards who actively try to rile things up simply for attention. "Don't feed the trolls," as they say. Feeding a troll is dignifying them with a response, which is exactly what they want. Resist the urge to respond and most trolls will go away. If the criticism is genuine, however, you should respond quickly and thoughtfully, which will demonstrate that you're a business that values feedback and listens to its customers. "I'm sorry to hear this…" is usually a good way to begin such a response.

3. Don't get defensive.

While "the customer is always right" may not always hold true, you should generally handle most feedback as if it is. Did your business goof here or was it a misunderstanding? Either way, you should treat it seriously and consider making changes to avoid the same criticism in the future.

4. Apologize sincerely.

If you discover that your business is at fault, a sincere apology can go a long way towards making things right. Avoid formal business speak when making an apology—you're a human being making an apology to another human being. So "I'm sorry this happened. I'm looking into it, so I'll get back to you soon and we'll get this sorted out" works a lot better than "We have acknowledged your complaint and apologize for your dissatisfaction."

5. Make things right.

Take the conversation to phone or email and offer them a discount, reimbursement, or even a freebie. Sometimes that can quickly restore any lost goodwill. If you make things right, you just might turn that unhappy customer into a fan who spreads the word about how your business goes above and beyond in the name of customer service. That kind of cheerleading for your brand or business can be priceless.

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