Businesses have always had to manage risk, but in the age of online feedback, that task has become even more difficult. Managing risk used to mean making sure your products were high quality and that you had good customer service. Now, it also means dealing with negative online comments and reviews. For ongoing projects, this becomes a complicated task of managing narratives, highlighting positive feedback, and addressing negative criticism tactfully. Thankfully, there are tools available to help businesses manage risk by leveraging the online feedback itself.

The overall objective is to turn the very central problem of criticism into the solution. Newer digital platforms that are capable of managing large amounts of data provide a novel tool for managing conversations towards constructive ends.

SmartComment’s web-based software for public comments and engagement campaigns, for example, allows businesses to monitor customer feedback and address any negative comments quickly and efficiently. For individual projects or regulatory agencies and consultants requiring ongoing support, this is an ideal solution. By incorporating such a tool into an organization’s workflow, businesses can get in front of any potential PR issues before they become bigger problems.

Easy Comment Entry

A common misunderstanding about mitigating negative comments is the notion that one should limit the means by which people can publicly announce their opinions. In reality, the opposite is true. Forms that are directly linked to public forums are another useful tool for managing risk. This type of form allows customers to quickly and easily submit their comments directly to the project in question. By collecting feedback in this way, businesses and organizations can get a better understanding of how customers view them and make necessary changes if needed.

But more to the point, it gives the organization control over the process.

The internet is filled with public forums – if you limit the ability for people to post online, they will undoubtedly find other outlets to air their concerns. If you don’t give people a reason to use other platforms, you limit the amount of spillover in conversations meant specifically for your project. Additional tools such as sentiment analysis software can also be used to identify potential areas of risk by analyzing customer comments and reviews en masse. This software uses AI technology to detect patterns in customer feedback that may indicate a problem or area where improvement is needed, so you don’t have to wade through every single submission.

The Importance Of Commenting Analysis

To be clear, it’s not just about providing forms to users. A robust public discussion solution needs to be able to incorporate ALL forms of feedback into a centralized location where the data can be sifted through and acted upon.

A commenting dashboard can help businesses to effectively manage risk by giving them an overview of customer comments and reviews. This dashboard provides businesses with insights such as average customer sentiment and the most commonly used words in reviews. SmartComment’s platform allows its administrators to accept electronic comments alongside emails, letters, hearing transcripts, submissions, and more. Comments are then stored in a secure database where they can be organized by topic, digitally bracketed, and analyzed with charts and graphs.

Response Staff Management

Businesses can manage risk by having a dedicated response staff. This team of employees is responsible for monitoring customer comments and responding in a timely manner. By doing so, businesses can ensure that any potential issues are addressed before they become bigger problems. But the cost of employing an entire team for the sole purpose of responding to the public can be greatly reduced by automating processes through a digital platform that compiles information in a meaningful way.

With SmartComment, public comments are plotted on Google Maps and can be displayed by topic, allowing you to identify specific concerns in a given area and effectively plan additional outreach. Allowing unlimited users, SmartComment puts the agency and consultant in the driver’s seat — no more manual updates or shared spreadsheets. When responses are complete, they’re cleanly exported along with comments into any required format.

Instead of assembling your final document from comments and responses, a SmartComment export can be tailored to fit any report style or format required by your approving agency and output a final comment/response report specifically tailored to your needs.

Within the SmartComment manager, users can view individual comments by topic, monitor their closed/open status, search comments by keyword, assign a pre-approved response to a comment, or forward a comment to a project specialist for a more refined response.

Automate Thoughtfulness and Consideration

Technology is not a panacea for everything. Although it’s often treated like a silver bullet, digital solutions without human depth can quickly turn into a nightmare. What’s needed is something that can scale the thoughtfulness and consideration of your support staff to more people. Managing risk through online feedback requires tools, processes, and personnel to be successful, but it’s chiefly the humanity of a business’ response that makes that success possible. We clearly believe that businesses should consider investing in the necessary technology to help them monitor customer feedback and take action based on their findings. Doing so will enable them to keep track of customer sentiment over time and address any potential risks quickly and effectively.

Empathy can become a scalable quality, as strange as that may sound.

By using these tools, businesses can better manage risk in the age of online feedback and ensure that customers have a positive experience with their brand. SmartComment was founded to vastly improve the public comment process for environmentally impactful projects, rule changes, permit applications, and for agencies and organizations that need comprehensive comment support. Our innovative tool ensures transparency and accessibility for citizens and provides agencies with an unassailable method for effectively and efficiently responding to public comments.