marketing-online_imageWith the rise of online marketing and social media, there has also been a rise in the ability of customers to, well…complain. That’s just as true in Christian market as it is everywhere else.  Online forums such as social media and blogs have created a ripe ground for constructive comments, as well as difficult ones.

How should a savvy marketer handle such complaints? We have some tips on handling the critics in a healthy way that keeps your brand intact and your fans delighted.

Handling customer complaints: Thank the commenter or contributor for their time and interest, and set some real boundaries and timelines for YOUR action. You need to respond quickly and take action.  State what the next steps will be, and then set a date for them to happen, such as “I’ll check on that, and get back in touch with you in the morning.”  This assures your client or customer that you are indeed taking the steps to remedy the situation. …and you better respond in the morning.

Take a good hard look at what they are saying, and don’t take it personally. Use criticism, online or otherwise, to take stock of things your brand can improve. Perhaps there is a particular item that multiple people are mentioning, and it needs to be addressed. Collaborate with your team to find a strategy that will address the problem, and don’t dwell on the negativity.

Within the company, discourage negativity. If critics are within your own company, encourage your employees and your team members to speak positively about the brand or company while in public. This helps cohesion and morale, and keeps a spirit of complaining to a minimum. Research also shows that when people speak highly of their job, they work harder and are happier!

Surprise your audience! Rise above the critics and respond publicly to criticism with tact and grace. By always being professional, your entire audience will see you are taking swift action and never compromising the message of your brand with a bad attitude. Take good care of the critic, and in most cases you can turn the situation around. In extreme cases, if a customer is using foul language or making inappropriate comments on your Facebook page, you can use Facebook to block them.

Reputation Management is an option.  In cases where your reputation is critically important, such as in any service industry, then you should consider using a reputation management service to examine the feedback you are getting, help you correct problems, and solicit additional customer feedback.  We can help you with that here at FrontGate Media.  The value of good comments and reputation is only increasing as users turn to sites and apps to research their choices.

There will always be critics, but by keeping your brand strategy in mind while putting customers and clients first, you can handle it, learn from it, and even turn it into a valuable asset.  For more marketing tips, check out the FrontGate blog.