Online communities can be a great place for businesses to get feedback and connect with customers. However, it’s important to remember that not everyone in your community will be positive. In fact, you may receive criticism and negative comments from time to time. This can be difficult to deal with, but it’s important to have a plan for how you’ll handle these situations. In this article, we’ll discuss how to handle online questions, queries, concerns and criticism from your community.

Acknowledge that not all feedback is created equal, but all feedback must be accounted for.

First, it’s important to remember that not all feedback is created equal. Some feedback may be constructive and helpful, while other feedback may be negative and unhelpful. It’s important to take the time to evaluate each piece of feedback carefully before taking any action.

That said, unless a member of your community is behaving in a way that requires their expulsion, you should always respond.

If you do receive negative feedback, there are a few ways to handle it, but we recommend a waiting period of contemplation followed by a response specific to the question.

Don’t react. Empathize.

Second, you can try to understand where the person is coming from. What might have led them to leave this particular comment? Is there anything you can do to improve your project, or the overall transparency of your project?

The main thing is to be responsive, but not reactive. This isn’t something you can fake, but it is something you can use online tools to assist you in. If you don’t have a way of keeping track of comments and checking off when a comment has or hasn’t been responded to, this can all feel incredibly overwhelming.

SmartComment’s analysis tools allow you to accept electronic comments alongside emails, letters, hearing transcripts, online submissions, and more. Comments are stored in a secure database where they can be organized by topic, digitally bracketed, and analyzed with charts and graphs. This gives you an ability to quickly glean context that individual shareholders may not be able to see, and provide that context in a way that’s specific to the concern or question being raised.

Be Specific With Your Response.

Third, you can respond directly to the person who left the comment. Thank them for their feedback and let them know that you’re working on making improvements. But make sure your response is adequately addressing whatever the complaint or concern is. Don’t try to placate people online by giving them a generic response that could be applied to anyone’s comment.

Again, having an online commenting tool to make sure you’re directly addressing concerns is key. SmartComment creates agency through a real-time environment — no more shared spreadsheets. When responses are complete, they’re cleanly exported along with comments into any required format so you can zero in on exactly what needs to be addressed, and respond with the thoughtfulness your community’s stakeholders deserve.

Don’t Be Afraid To Personalize Your Responses

Equally important as being specific with your response is being open to personalizing your responses. It shows that you’re taking the time to read and consider each comment. This doesn’t mean you have to agree with everything someone says, but it does mean acknowledging their concerns and letting them know that you’re working on making improvements. Most importantly, make sure it’s clear that you’re also a living, breathing, human being.

When responding to comments, always be respectful and professional. Remember, these are real people who are taking the time to provide feedback about your project. How you handle these situations will say a lot about your project management, so it’s important to take the time to do it right.

Acknowledge Your Mistakes

If you do make a mistake, it’s important to acknowledge it. Whether it’s a small mistake or a large one, people will appreciate your honesty and transparency. And again, make sure your response is specific to the person who left the comment. Acknowledge their concerns and let them know what you’re doing to fix the problem.

Remember To Follow Up

Once you’ve addressed the issue, make sure to follow up and let the person know that you’ve taken care of it. This will show them that you’re committed to providing a good experience for your community.

Go The Extra Mile

In addition to following up, you can also go the extra mile and reach out to the person offline. This could be something as simple as sending them an email or giving them a call. Or, if you’re feeling really ambitious, you could even send them a handwritten note. Regardless of what you do, the important thing is that you take the time to show your appreciation for their feedback.

Not Responding Is Always An Option…But Not Recommended

Remember, you can always ignore the comment altogether. This isn’t always the best option, but sometimes it’s necessary if the person is being particularly negative or if their feedback isn’t helpful.

But in general, we recommend responding to all feedback, whether it’s positive or negative. It shows that you care about your community and that you’re working to make improvements. And using an online commenting tool will make the process a lot easier and less time-consuming.

Export A Final Report For Review

Get all your stakeholders on the same page by exporting final reports that can be reviewed and edited by anyone, before being made public. This is a crucial step in the process, as it allows you to get buy-in from key decision-makers on how to best address the concerns that have been raised.

No matter what type of feedback you receive, it’s important to remember that your community is made up of people who care about your project. They want to see you succeed, so don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. With a little effort, you can turn online questions, queries and concerns into valuable feedback that will help your business grow.

If you’re looking for a way to handle online questions, queries, concerns, and criticism from your community, we recommend using SmartComment. Our software makes it easy to track and respond to comments in a way that’s specific to each person’s concern. Try SmartComment today to see how we can help you build a better relationship with your community.