Posting and creative projects online is a fabulous way to share the work with the world and receive valuable feedback. It will be helping you to feel connected, confident, and empowered to different creatives. However, it will also open the work up to criticism from family, friends, and strangers. Most of the time, criticism is helpful, but purposely nasty messages and comments can sting.

A major part of the population uses the Internet on a regular basis. And whenever a customer feels they’ve been mistreated, it is strangely easy for her or him to get online and vent all the frustrations. So when this happens, how do you handle it? Here are some tips as to how to react to negative brand criticism, so that you can paint a positive image of your business online.

Online reputation management mistakes

As long as you have a successful brand or business, people will always find something to say about it. And when it is about online reputation management, the goal is to build positive engagement with the customers for the life of that business.

Negative reviews are unavoidable for any business. Also if you serve a huge client base, you may expect to gain plenty of them over time.

Nobody looks forward to dealing with the critical reviews. Unfortunately, even when the reviews are unfair or even fake, you won’t be able to ignore them. They hold the potential to cause serious damage to the company’s brand.
The great news is that by responding properly, you might turn bad reviews into an opportunity to highlight strengths.

There will always be criticism to deal with in the workplace. How could one respond to criticism in a professional way? How to keep feelings of frustration with a workplace situation or with others from affecting the professional demeanor? We will now progress towards exploring all the ways to respond to criticism in a professional manner in this section.

Learning Outcomes

  • Discuss ways to remain professional when you’re feeling frustrated with others or a situation.
  • Discuss key points to a professional response to criticism.
  • Write a long message responding to internal or external criticism.
  • Write a short message responding to internal or external criticism.

Ignore negative commentary –

If you ignore accusations or negative comments about the brand, anger towards the business will decay, especially when a lot of people are rallying against you. Some years ago, Nestle’s brand image got seriously damaged by Greenpeace’s campaign against their brand. If they had not ignored the problem at first, most of this likely could have been avoided. When it is about the brand, it doesn’t necessarily mean you should reply to each of the negative comments.

If someone is trolling the public discussion boards, then only you should give the remarks a pass. But, if the negative post looks credible, you must address it then.

Of course, as there are a diversity of good ways to react and respond, there are unproductive or poor ways to respond to criticism. Here are examples of how not to respond.

  1. “I’ll never be good enough.”
  2. Minimizing.
  3. Feeling attacked.
  4. “It’s your fault too.”
  5. Finger pointing.
  6. Making it personal.
  7. Denial.
  8. Standing aloof.
  9. Arguing.
  10. Excuse making.

Negative responses to negative feedback lose respect, delay growth, and destroy progress.

Reacting emotionally –

If the reaction to negative comments is to get back at them with negative comments, it’s guaranteed to make you look very bad. Customers wish to do business with a professional brand. If you react negatively or emotionally to a customer online, nobody can say that you wouldn’t react in the exact same way in real life to the person reading that.

Remaining Professional When You’re Frustrated

Behaving professionally is a key to success in the market. Maintaining that behavior, no matter if the time is stressful, might be a challenge.

So, what does it signify to be “professional” at your work? The definition keeps changing but normally includes expertise, being in a positive mood and possessing knowledge, meeting the obligations correctly and on time, using proper language, respecting all with whom you are interacting, operating ethically, maintaining an appropriate appearance, and having social and emotional intelligence.

Different terms describing professional conduct in the workplace are polish, soft skills, business etiquette, and protocol.

Respond to Negative Reviews Quickly

Responding immediately to any negative review shows that the team is on top of things and is able to address problems on time. Also, the longer a review is on the site without any response, the more people can see the criticism without any clarification or context.

To ensure the team responds as quickly as feasible, set a point person to observe reviews. The job could also include monitoring as well as responding to negative social media mentions or different negative media attention. Many social media outlets and review sites enable a notification setting that make monitoring comparatively simple and also, if you set up a Google alert, it will help you track other types of negative online attention.

Select an online reputation monitor who can dedicate attention and time to craft the responses. That person must have a deep understanding of the brand’s tone, and be able to communicate effectively and clearly. Do not forget to set a substitute when the designated review responder is not available.

Start the Response With a Note of Appreciation

Every critical review received by you is an extremely valuable chance to gain insights into how you do the business.

In many cases, critical reviewers took the time to articulate real problems that other users have undergone but have never tried sharing with you.

That is the reason to start every review response by thanking the reviewer for taking the time to provide their valuable feedback. A note of appreciation will acknowledge the efforts and will set the right tone for the response.

Acknowledge That You Understand the Problem, and Use Empathy

It has been seen that when people display frustration with customer service or through an online review, the main motive is to be validated and heard. They need to know that the feedback can really result in any change for good, even when they do not have any problem that requires immediate resolution.

The customers will see right through a taped response to their issue that feels too generic or formal.

Follow the note of appreciation with a summary of the problem that is showing you’ve truly heard the complaint and understood the issue. Yey, if the problem is unclear, then you should request clarification.

Nice review responses, such as genuine apologies, must also aim to acknowledge how that particular issue made the customer feel (inconvenienced, frustrated,upset, confused, etc.).

Take the Conversation Offline (Along with Contact Information)

Review sites and social media sites usually are not the perfect places to maintain the conversations needed to resolve any of the issues highlighted in a contrary review.

At the end of the review response, guarantee the reviewer that you are committed to fix the issue or improve the problem. If you do not have the contact details required to reach them directly, provide them the contact information for the department or the right person at the company.

It’s not rare for companies to just direct the critic to the customer support team, using a phone number or an email that can automatically begin a support ticket and track the progress of the complaint.

However, it might be a lot more effective to add the name and contact information of an actual person at the end of the response. This will make the response look more personal, and maybe also make the reviewer feel a lot more comfortable when they reached out initially.

Follow Up on the Complaint

Many review platforms enable users to change or modify the reviews after they have made them at the start. If the team reaches above and beyond to solve the problems that provoked the review, there is a slight chance that the reviewer could bump up the evaluation, or add a note about how they had been fixed.

Despite whether it will result in a good review, personally following up with the complaints until they get resolved is a necessary practice for the customer support team.

Work to Minimize Critical Reviews

Having a strategy to respond to critical reviews is important. Nevertheless, you must also be working to stop negative reviews from being posted in the first place.

Obviously, the simplest way to achieve this purpose is to pay special attention to the clients’ experiences with the company and provide them with the best support when they require it.

And you can also do the best to address potential problems before a customer posts about it publicly. If the customer chooses to reach out to the staff first and feel happy with the response, they might not post it online at all.

Planning a strategy to respond to critical reviews is crucial. But, you should be working to stop negative reviews primarily.

Keep it as easy as possible for your visitors to provide feedback. Post the customer assistance number prominently, add an uncomplicated contact form, or prefer installing a chat support window on the website.

If the customers is visiting your business in person instead of online, visitor management software will make it easy to reach out to facility visitors after they have left and proactively request them for their valuable feedback. This approach gives you a chance to fix potential problems offline.

No matter how much you try, though, there will still be some critical reviews of the work floating out all through the internet. Keep in mind that some things are just not in our control.

To provide potential customers a more detailed view of how the critics can stack up as compared to the rest of the customers, you’ll have to work to inspire more positive reviews about the company.

It is human nature to focus on the negative more. It has been generally stated that customers tend to share negative experiences a lot more than positive ones, with just 1 in 10 customers giving a positive review after a pleasant experience.

Sometimes all it needs is a loving nudge from you to the customers to get a good review. You may add links to review and request for reviews sites in email signatures, or also verbally remind customers how much you will appreciate it when they give positive experiences online.

  • Figure out what the customer actually wants –

    Each customer needs their problem to get resolved, but how they wish the issue fixed will be modified. Some consumers just want an apology, others might want a refund, and some simply want the product they ordered and never received. Read and go through the negative comment thoughtfully to figure out what could make the customer happy, then proceed subsequently.

  • Imagine you’re responding to your grandmother –

    You can never say something hurtful or rude to the grandmother, and so you must not tell the customers either. Whenever a customer comes to you having an issue, rephrase it back to them to make sure that you have understood it correctly, and after that explain how you’ll solve the problem. And just as you would if your beloved grandmother came to you with an issue, stay sensitive and do the best to help.

  • Stick to the facts –

    When you’re engaging with a customer over the internet, the original comment may quickly turn into a back-and-forth conversation. If that happens, do not get off-topic when you’re addressing the problem. The customer can try to engage you in a they-said-that battle, just avoid taking the bait. Answer with facts, stick to the subject at hand, and don’t get caught up in private accusations.

  • Turning the negative into a positive one –

    Negative feedback is an excuse to improve the business. So try and be honest with yourself. If there is any truth in the comment, take a real hard look at the company. Did that commentator point out a sharp problem you can fix? Remember, a business is zero without the customers, so it only makes sense to do the best to please them.

Playfully refute

The customer is not everytime right. Many times, you will get a follower complaining about something illogical, in which case the best move is to refute what they said — but do so in a whimsical, joyous manner. Getting extremely aggressive at this point would escalate the condition, and the job is to destroy it.

For example, when a follower says that something in the latest article is not correct, you must acknowledge the possibility for mistakes to occur, but always follow up with a link that proves the information to be correct. It will preserve the reputation but still won’t attack the critic straight.

Be extra gracious

Social media users just crave attention; providing them the attention will almost immediately defuse any situation. If a customer shares a criticism about the business, go out of the way to thank them for insights. Rather than refuting the claim or being funny, accept that and let them know how much you admire customer criticism.

If they troll you, they’ll be rendered ineffective, and when they are sincere, they will be walking away feeling both appreciated and heard. There is no downside here.

Make light of the situation

You can also inject humor by giving light to the situation — as long as you follow up with some sort of solution. Again, it shows humanity and expresses a degree of humility to the followers while reducing tension. For instance, if any customer complains that an item got damaged during shipping, you can joke that you own a team of elephants deliver their package and prepare to ship a replacement product out instantly.

What Not to Do

For any reason, the techniques above may not work for you . You might not think them as that much personally appealing, they are not fitting with your brand view, or the particular circumstances of the customer’s complaint might not warrant one of those responses. You don’t have to worry as there is plenty of wiggle, so just feel free to come up with any other way to respond to them.

Nevertheless, there are a few cardinal sins you’ll wish to avoid if you desire to keep the reputation intact:

Agitate. Humor is nice, but you should not go out of the way to poke the one. Keep all the jokes appropriate, and do not intentionally rile up the critics — even when they do deserve it.

Debate. It’s okay if the follower’s criticism is incorrect; you can deny the main subject. But do not engage in a flat-out debate with any follower. Debates are pretty insignificant and therefore they won’t lead anywhere. Rather, you will look unprofessional and the critic will get unhappier.

Ignore. If you are pretending that the criticism is not there, the critic will possibly grow angrier and grow louder with the attempts to get the attention. It can also make you look bad to the other followers, implying that you don’t care what the followers are saying.

Final Thought

It doesn’t matter how cautious you are, how good you are doing for the customers, and how solid the reputation is otherwise; ultimately, you’re going to face some criticism over social media. It could be a client or customer not happy with the product they ordered, someone pointing out in one of the latest announcements, or a troll trying to be the better of you.

In any other case, it is a vulnerable condition for the business. As the social media is public-facing, people will be able to see and recognize the criticism, but most importantly, they will be watching to see how you have responded.

If you wish to attract extra social media followers, or you just desire to do a more satisfying job of keeping the ones you have (while keeping them happy), these above are some of the worst and best ways to tackle all the incoming criticism. It doesn’t matter what type of criticism you’re receiving, do take a moment to actually listen to what they want to say — this is a learning experience and a chance for you to make your followers and customers happier. Keep evolving as you are and move forward!