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Been flamed lately? Here's how to deal with it

imagerepNo doubt you've seen examples of unsatisfied customers and business owners going at each other tooth and nail online. If you haven't here's a perfect example of how to sink your own ship! Having the haters focus on you is no picnic, but damaging your or your brand's reputation due to your response is a bit like a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Totally unnecessary.

Sometimes they have a point, in some cases they're as wrong as wrong can be, but your response ought to be consistent. It serves no purpose to engage in a flame war, or otherwise respond in the negative. Instead, use these tips to help limit the damage to your brand!

  • Be quick to respond - Don't leave them waiting for days or weeks for a reply. Respond as soon as you see the problem, and promise to get back to them with as solution shortly if you don't have one right away, and then do that! If you wait too long, and the thread starts getting busy with people who aren't even involved chiming in on your lack of responsiveness, you lose!
  • Repeat, NEVER respond in kind! - Even when you really, really, really want to! You'll lose this fight, as it's you against the world. Despite the fact you're right, swallow your pride and see it as a cost of doing business.
  • Take it offline if you can - Make your initial response in the thread, and then if you can take it offline to IM, email or if possible the phone.
  • If you love to mix it up, staff this out! - If every bone in your body aches to slug it out online, then you'd do well assigning this one to a person who isn't as fiery as yourself. Save that that fire for other areas of your business!
  • Don't delete the comment - You can do that later, if you want or need to. If you've handled this correctly, though, the offending comment is going to be buried by a lot of supportive ones, and no longer matter.
  • Be sure to personalize the conversation - Try to use names whenever possible. Even if you have a staffer doing it, have them sign their posts, Tweets, or whatever they are using. This helps in personalize the issue, and seems to help in defusing antagonism.