How to Respond to Common Types of Online Community Feedback

All feedback you receive as online community manager is valuable, even if it hurts to read it. Most of the time, it’s from people who care about your brand and want to be sure that it’s not going in a bad direction. If you want to stay competitive, you need to have your finger on the pulse of your people and take their concerns seriously.

Though you respond to both positive and negative feedback differently, it’s important to respond to both types of feedback in a timely manner. To sweep it under the rug or put it off is to show the person who took the time to send you his thoughts that you don’t care.

If someone is writing to compliment you on a job well done or to compliment the brand, always respond with a thank you. Make sure that you mention the person by name and make the letter as personal as possible. If you can, include coupon codes, freebies, or other perks so that they know how much you value their time.

Negative feedback is different because it involves investigation. Never minimize the complaint or make the sender feel silly or dumb. The first step is in responding to the other party, even if you have no response. If something is not your department it’s up to you to hand it off to the right person, but follow up in a reasonable amount of time to be sure it’s done.

Here’s what you need to do in common scenarios:

  • If a product or service didn’t live up to expectations: You’ll find that even though you have a good relationship with a community member, he may not like your product, service, or whatever it is your promoting. If someone reaches out to tell you he didn’t like something, you want to determine what kind of action is needed. Send a note apologizing and offering to make things right.

  • If the person wants a refund: Community managers don’t always issue refunds, but they can recommend it happen. However, not every issue requires a refund. Some people even make a hobby of writing to brands with complaints so that they can get their money back. Never treat a customer as if he isn’t telling the truth, but always weigh the situation.

  • If someone complains about someone who works with you: If someone who works with you was rude to a customer or used inappropriate language in your community gathering place, an apology is in order. First say you’re sorry and you’re looking into the matter and then have the offending party come in and also apologize.

  • Complaints about other community members: Many times it’s someone trolling, and that person is easily banned. Always nip this kind of negativity in the bud before it turns into something worse, like cyber-bullying. However, not every situation is serious.

    Always respond and let the person know that you’ll look into all allegations. If you do have to talk to another community member about his behavior, do so in private, as it’s no one else’s business.

  • If a situation wasn’t handled to the customer’s satisfaction: If a member reaches out to you with this sort of complaint, the worst thing you can do is to pass him off to the person who didn’t help in the first place.

    Instead, let the other person know that you’ll take care of it and take the complaint to the person who can fix it and stay with it until it’s fixed. Once the customer brings you into it, you have no choice but to get a little involved.

  • If the customer is complaining just to complain: The problem with chronic complainers is that you’re not sure if their feedback has merit after a while. These types of complaints require case by case consideration. Still, it’s always important to make the other person feel important and let her know you take her concerns seriously.

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