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Handling Negative Publicity

Obviously the goal of any business is to please their customers.  You work hard to build relationships, grow loyalty and improve your reputation in your given industry.  You focus on this by providing excellent service to your customers, being available to your customers, staying on top of your industry’s changes, and working hard each day to grow your business.

Unfortunately, despite your hard work there may well come a time when you face negative publicity.  As humans, our initial reaction to someone saying something negative or harmful to our business is to get angry or defensive.  Before you respond to any negative feedback you receive you need to step back and look at the situation carefully.  Ask yourself the following questions while you take a deep breath:

-Is the comment true?
-If I put myself in the other person’s shoes, can I understand why they feel this way?
-Could something I have done have been misunderstood?
-Am I in the wrong?
-Could I have provided better service in this situation?
-What are my options for rectifying the situation?
-Is the comment publicly accessible, and what type of damage can this do to my business if left alone?

Negative publicity can happen for many reasons.  A misunderstanding, a simple error, differing opinions, a less than ethical competitor, along with many other possibilities can result in negative feedback.  Often times the situation is easily rectified, but the person leaving the feedback did not give you that opportunity before complaining publicly.

When you look at the situation you are dealing with, first consider the source and look at where the comments were left.  You need to analyze how damaging the comments really are to your business and then decide how to respond.  You may decide the best course of action is to simply ignore it all together.  Often times you can go to the source directly and resolve the problem.  This can be ideal as not only are you likely to have the negative feedback removed you may be able to come out of the situation on top, showing that you care about your customers concerns and will go out of the way to fix your errors.

If the situation cannot be resolved offline with the source and you feel the negativity is too important to ignore, you need to carefully formulate a response.  Again, keeping your emotions in check is imperative, or you could end up harming your reputation more with your own actions than the initial feedback would have done if left alone.

Regardless of how you choose to handle the problem, there is one positive result of negative feedback should you look at it in the right light.  Negative publicity, like anything else you encounter in business, is a learning opportunity.  It will give you a chance to rethink your business practices and fine-tune your policies to prevent such a situation from happening again.  In the end, one negative comment is unlikely to destroy your business.  The best thing you can do is respond appropriately and work extra hard to make sure your next customers leave rave reviews.