How to handle an online critic

Being a critic is easy these days. People live under the guise of anonymity via the world wide web. They are not so anonymous on social media like Facebook; because social media doesn’t involve face-to-face interactions and it is easy to feel empowered to lodge complaints and insults.

When you are a business owner, you rely on positive feedback and word of mouth. When we are criticized, especially on a public forum, we are bound to feel defensive. How do we handle it?

Breathe

Before you respond, take a time out. You don’t want to regret your heat-of-the-moment reply.

Listen

Was the complaint valid? No matter the vitriol in which the complaint was written, was there any truth to it?

Choose your battles

Is the complaint written in such a way that the situation just comes off as untenable? Consider letting it go and not responding. Some people just will never be happy. Responding can ignite even more ugly words.

Respond

If a complaint was valid, let the person know you’ve heard them. Reply with a “thank you for calling that to my attention, I’m going to look into this.”  Be calm and respectful. Often, this will diffuse a situation.

Apologize

If you were in the wrong, apologize. Often a critic just wants to feel vindicated. A response that admits a mistake was made can do wonders. You don’t have to do it publicly; a private response may feel more personal and attentive.

Rectify

If warranted, fix the situation by offering a return or exchange on the service. But be careful to draw the line and not get taken advantage of.

Move on

You’ve listened, responded appropriately and rectified the situation. Or, you’ve chosen that it was best to ignore it. Either way, it’s time to visualize the complaint as a rock – and skip it into a large body of water. In other words – learn from it, move on and let it go.

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