Communication skills

Responding to negative feedback online

- November 29, 2011 2 MIN READ

In the age of online public feedback, negative feedback can cause irreparable damage to your business. But respond appropriately, and you could turn it into a positive.

Calmly sit down and write an answer

Your response to negative feedback needs to be measured and considered, so never write a response when you’re angry.

If you respond with a ballistic rant it will only serve to confirm and exacerbate the negative feedback, and you’ll come across as aggressive, which is equivalent to dousing your business with nuclear waste.

Don’t write a response when you’re angry. Just don’t.

Listen and acknowledge

Nobody enjoys reading negative feedback, but the insights of a vocal few sometimes reveal the thoughts of a silent majority. Even if you don’t like the feedback, you can still learn from it.

Make sure you always acknowledge the fact that someone has taken the time to leave it, too.

Address the issue

Address the issue that has been raised, no matter how minor it may seem to you.

Want more articles like this? Check out the  communication skills section.

Provide an explanation

If something has gone wrong, it’s sometimes useful to explain how or why. And if you’ve made a mistake, apologise.

Suggest a resolution

Regardless of whether you’ve done something wrong or not, suggest a resolution that will satisfy everyone. By suggesting a resolution, you’re showing that you’re a reasonable person who cares about the wellbeing of your customers.

Pulling it all together

Say a customer tweets about having to wait ten minutes to be served in your store while the teenage staff members were busy chatting about their weekend. How should you respond?

Don’t say: All my staff are well-trained and very polite. You must have been in a different store, or in a bad mood and a roaring hurry. If you’re going to talk about my staff like that, please don’t bother coming back.

Do say: Thank you for taking the time to leave feedback. I have investigated the incident, and I’d like to apologise for the unsatisfactory service you received yesterday. This is not the way I want my valued customers treated, and my staff members have been counselled appropriately. I’d like to offer you a small gift to apologise for the inconvenience caused, so please return to my store again in the near future. Thank you once again for your feedback.

But what if you honestly do think that someone has made a mistake, misread a situation or is purposefully trying to slur your business in public for their own purposes? How should you respond then?  How about this:

Thank you for your feedback. I’m very sorry that you feel you were treated disrespectfully in my store. As I was the only person working in the store yesterday, I’m wondering if the event perhaps occurred on a different day? I’m keen to follow up with the relevant staff members, so would appreciate you dropping into the store or giving me a call to discuss your feedback in more detail. I look forward to talking to you soon, and thanks again for your feedback.

Negative online feedback can be difficult to read, and it’s equally difficult to respond to. But if you stay calm, address the issues, and work toward a resolution, the outcome can be very positive.

Have you ever responded to negative feedback? If so, share your feedback here.

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  • Andrew Caska

    Caska IP Patent Attorneys

    'Flying Solo opened up so many doors for us - I honestly don't know where I'd be without it"