What Do You Do With Negative Comments?
The other day as I was looking for a repair shop I came across a Yelp listing with some rather negative comments about the service people in a particular shop. It’s the sort of thing a business owner dreads to see. But it’s inevitable that sooner or later if you grow a big enough audience someone is going to say something less than positive. It may even be downright mean. Then what?
It can hurt. It can make you angry. It can seem personal. After all, this is something you’ve been working hard for and something you care deeply about. The criticism may be completely unfounded or it may be blown out of proportion. Regardless, you need to deal with it. Thinking ahead of time about how to handle it helps so when that day comes it’s just another task rather than a stress-enducing fiasco.
Your first instinct may be to simply delete the nastiness. As tempting as that is, it may not be a good move in the long run. This could invite even meaner and nastier comments, and you would lose an opportunity to show what kind of a company or blogger you are. How you respond will send as big of a message as anything you would write on your own.
However, there is no single correct way to handle the situation. It depends on the comment and the motivation behind it. If you have some general policies, however, you’ll be ready for whatever is said.
Some options to consider:
- Ignore it. This is best when responding would set up a back and forth on line debate that isn’t going to go anywhere. Also best when the criticism is clearly absurd.
- Acknowledge the comment with a neutral response “Thank you taking the time to give us your thoughts. Your perspective matters to us.
- Respond to the person directly. If you can identify the writer, reach out directly to see if you can fix the problem.
- Respond publicly with a note explaining your perspective or what you’ve done to fix the problem.
That’s what the repair shop owner did. He apologized for what had happened and voiced a commitment to making sure customers are treated well when they come to the shop. I was impressed enough with his concern that I decided to give it a try. His customer service was as good as he promised.