How to Respond to Online Criticism While Still Boosting Your Brand

Abraham Kiplangat Mutai

@ItsMutai On twiter

How to Respond to Online Criticism While Still Boosting Your Brand


Did you hear the story about the hotel that fined its guests for negative Yelp reviews?

You heard that right. A boutique hotel in New York actually included a clause in its wedding booking policies that stated that a fine of $500 would be withheld from clients’ deposits if their guests posted negative reviews on

Now, since then, the hotel has claimed it was a tongue-in-cheek jab at those who post negative reviews, especially when the reviews pertain to expecting an ultra modern hotel experience from a one-of-a-kind historic building. But in all honesty, it looked like a thinly veiled attempt to threaten people into not leaving honest reviews on Yelp about the hotel’s less than stellar customer service.

They’ve since deleted the policy from their website. But I think it’s a great reason to talk about how social media (including negative customer reviews) can be used to enhance your customers’ experiences and help you deliver legendary customer service.

How Social Media Can Help You Deliver A Top-Notch Customer Experience

  1. Actively monitor and respond to feedback – If you aren’t monitoring feedback on your facebook page or Twitter streams, for example, two things can happen. If you’re receiving great feedback, you run the risk of appearing aloof and isolated.  On the other hand, if you’re receiving negative feedback and you don’t respond, you look downright disinterested in your customers’ experiences with your brand. Either way, you’re damaging the image of your brand.
  1. Don’t squash negative feedback – Whether by threats to existing customers or more subtly by deleting negative feedback, don’t squash the negative.  When you do, you appear heavy handed and more interested in the image of your brand than the reality of what you offer.  Negative feedback is extremely important – if it’s true, it gives you the opportunity to change your products and services for the better. If you choose to pretend it doesn’t exist, people will know, and it will only hurt you.
  2. Observe what your customers want and deliver it – It’s not only complaints that help you change your offerings for the better. Watch how your customers (and prospective customers) talk about services like yours online. Do they wish that you had more service offerings or different product designs? While you can’t please everyone all of the time, you can take note if there is frequent mention of particular items. They may be useful to take into account for future releases of products or service offerings.
  3. Watch what your competitors are doing – Learn from your competitors, both from their strengths and weaknesses. Set up Google alerts for mentions of your competitors, and learn from their customer service experience as well.
  4. Make sure your customer service and social media are connected – Once upon a time, there were clear lines between the customer service function and the marketing function. Looking back, maybe it shouldn’t have been that way, but that’s how organizations developed.

But when you look at the kind of marketing people really respond to, it makes sense that providing service-based marketing is what makes your brand stand out in a positive way.

If you’re a solopreneur, obviously you do the marketing and the customer service. This means that you need to be able to do your social media marketing from a service-based perspective. The message needs to be about providing maximum value to your prospects and customers – and especially to your unhappy customers.

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