How to Accept Feedback from Online Community Members

As online community manager, you cannot be afraid to ask for feedback because you don’t want to hear bad news. The reality is that there’s no such thing as bad feedback.

Still, when the negative feedback comes, sometimes you can’t help but take it personally. You spend so much time cultivating your community and promoting the brand that when someone doesn’t like something, you almost feel it’s a reflection of you. The thing is, you shouldn’t avoid feedback; you should embrace it. All feedback, even if it’s negative, is a positive opportunity to reflect and change.

Always be gracious in accepting feedback, whether it’s good or bad. Your members come to you with compliments or criticism because they care. When you’re approached with feedback, always respond in a professional manner.

When you receive feedback:

  • Have a plan in place. Your brand should have a plan for receiving feedback from customers and members. This plan should discuss proper responses and determine which departments should react to different types of feedback. If no policy is available, talk to your team about setting one up.

  • Realize that not all feedback requires immediate action. When a member or customer tells you he doesn’t like a particular aspect of the community or brand, or he wants to compliment you on something you’ve done well, you don’t need to act on right away. You do, however, need to thank the person and let him know that you’ll share the feedback with your team.

  • Keep a record of all feedback. Due diligence is very important. Sometimes the most minor issues have a way of coming back to haunt you. Customers may say one thing to you and another to your superiors. Sometimes members even deny contacting you at all. Note all feedback and save all correspondence until you’re sure t the case is closed.

  • Make sure members that know you’re grateful they took the time to contact you. Members may be taking a brave step by contacting a brand or a person whom they see as being in a position of authority. Do your best to make them feel comfortable.

  • Do good research. Make sure you have all the facts. Community members who relate news, especially in the case of a bad customer experience or spat with other members, tend to tell only one side of the story.

    Always dig a little deeper. If the feedback involves criticism of a person or situation in the community, or a technical error, ask for links or screen shots that show specific examples.

  • Respond professionally, not personally. How can a member trust you and the brand if you get your back up every time someone says something negative? Always remember that feedback isn’t personal. Be pleasant and polite and don’t forget to say thank you.

  • Respond promptly. Respond promptly to all queries, complaints, concerns, and comments, even if some require an answer that you don’t have yet. Thank the member for caring enough to leave feedback and let her know that you’re doing everything you can to look into the matter. If the feedback doesn’t require a response, simply say “Thank you so much for taking the time to comment.”

When you receive feedback, the most important thing is to let the other party know how much you value his time and comments, but don’t let it stop there. Listening to your members is more than just saying thank you and moving on to the next person. You have to determine whether this type of feedback requires action and then take care of it in a timely manner.

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