Responding to Negative Feedback Online

By Paige Tepping

Whether you've been in the real estate business for a long time—or are a newbie just getting your feet wet—chances are you've received some sort of negative feedback on social media (or other areas of the internet) related to you personally or the way you do business.
Unfortunately, ignoring the negativity is no longer an option, as prospective clients are turning to the internet in record numbers to do their homework before choosing a real estate professional to represent them through the home-buying or -selling process. As with everything you do, it’s important to handle these situations professionally so that you don’t tarnish the online reputation you’ve worked so hard to build.
Here are five simple tips to keep in mind to successfully handle the negativity…and solidify your place as the go-to real estate expert in your local market:
Respond quickly.
 When it comes to responding to negative reviews or comments that may have found their way onto online review sites, your Facebook page, latest Instagram or blog post (or anywhere else), time is of the essence. Even if the problem can't be rectified immediately—or an answer given right away—it's critical that you at least acknowledge the issue and assure that you're looking into it.
Craft a response that's both thoughtful and professional. While you may feel entitled to speak your mind and respond in a tone similar to the original message, it's important to distance yourself from the situation before saying anything. This will allow you to clear your head and determine the most thoughtful and professional manner in which to reply. The last thing you want to do is get into a heated argument on a public forum for all your past (and future) clients to see.
Continue the conversation on the same platform or website the client used. Don't change the flow of the conversation by responding to the original review or comment in a different location. In addition to including an apology, and letting the individual know that the level of service they received is not consistent with the way you do business, it's also a good idea to thank the individual for their feedback. This will go a long way in showing that you value feedback from any and all clients—good, bad or indifferent.
If you made a mistake, own up to it. If you dropped the ball at any given time while working with a particular client, or botched the entire transaction, the best thing you can do is own up to your mistake. There's no sense in trying to cover up what you did—as people will be able to see right through it—so take the high road and admit to your wrongdoing.
Don't delete the negativity. Deleting negative comments and/or reviews may seem like the right (and only) answer when it comes to keeping your reputation intact; however, this could end up working against you somewhere down the line. Working with buyers and sellers on a daily basis isn't going to come without some challenges, and letting clients and prospects see the good and the bad is key to showing that you’re able to work through any and all situations with a level head.
In the end, maintaining your online reputation is all about being prepared. Be proactive and take the time today to put a plan in place so that you have something to refer back to should you need it in the future. Part of that plan should include being aware of what’s being said about you, your company, service and brand across all corners of the internet. If you haven't yet, set up Google Alerts—an online tool that allows you to track specific keywords and phrases—in order to get a handle on conversations you may not be privy to otherwise.
Paige Tepping is RISMedia's managing editor.

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