As a brand in the digital age, you need to be prepared for criticism. It will come from customers past and present, from employees who have been wronged or who feel scorned and it will be both public and private. Accept that now, learn to effectively respond to it, and your brand will be better off in the long run.
1) People want to be heard.
One of the main reasons people write reviews online or post comments on social media is because they don’t feel they’ve been heard through other mediums. At their core, most people just want to feel their concerns have been taken on board and are valued. When responding to posts like these publicly, keep that in mind, or you run the risk of coming over as dismissive. Do not dismiss the way they’re feeling. As much as you may disagree, and as much as this may sound (to some) like hippie-dippie bullcrap, the person who wrote the initial review or comment has every right to feel the way they do, and dismissing that right will not make your brand come off looking good.
2) Getting defensive means there’s something to defend.
I know it’s hard not to jump up and say, ‘But that’s just not true!’ when someone besmirches your good name. Trust me, there’s nothing that frustrates me more than when I see a negative review of one of my clients, especially when I know how hard they work to make sure their customers have a positive experience and how much they genuinely care about people. It’s tough! But jumping in with both feet only baits the keyboard warriors. When writing a response, it’s important to acknowledge any negative feedback they’ve given you, assure them you’ll look into it if it’s an accusation of impropriety, but keep your cool. Do not attack the writer or their intentions, and make sure to thank them genuinely for any positive feedback.
“You can’t let praise or criticism get to you. It’s a weakness to get caught up in either one.” – John Wooden
3) Try and make it a private conversation.
The first thing you should do to make this easier? Remove the peanut gallery. If this is a Facebook comment or a Glassdoor review, ask them to private message or email you so you can further address their concerns confidentially. This shows them you take them seriously and want to continue the conversation but allows you to have it without the world chiming in. Just keep in mind this is the era of the screenshot, so carry on as though they are still listening in.
4) Get a second pair of eyes. 👀
Yes, literally. Borrow someone else’s though. Having someone else look at your response will tell you if you’ve responded in anger, plus, hopefully, it’ll give you a bit of a spelling and grammar check. (If you don’t have a grammatically inclined friend, run it through Grammarly. Please do not respond with grammatical or spelling errors, you’re just asking for more rebuttals!) Make sure this is someone who isn’t as emotionally invested as you are, so they can give you an honest opinion as to how well your response will come across.
5) Remember not everything is worthy of a response.
Not every review or critique needs a response from the CEO. Sometimes, you just have to let things roll off your back and keep on making your company the best it can be. Because as the busy-bee that you are, you have more important things to do! If someone is offensive or vulgar, do not respond. If they’re raising a complaint, direct them to your complaints department or try and solve their problem. Spending valuable time responding to every negative response isn’t a good look for a brand, especially when it means you neglect the positive reviews completely! Saying thank you to people who support you could be a much worthier way to spend your valuable time.