The Most Common PR Dilemma – Delete Online Criticism or Not

 

Most of us use Facebook and are members or fans of various groups and pages on this platform. Chances are, you’ve seen critical commentary popping up from time to time and subsequently deleted by the administrators of the group or page.

I’ve also been asked this question many times by different kinds of people, especially prospective clients. One question stands out in my memory: Why should I create a platform for people to criticize me? That’s a very telling question. At one level, because it clearly means the person was aware of being at the receiving end of more than normal amounts of criticism. At the next level it is also highly probable the person didn’t want to or was unable to constructively address that criticism. Another important point to note is that criticism will continue, on the person’s platform or elsewhere. Wouldn’t it be more convenient if we provide that platform so we know what criticism we’re facing rather than bury our heads in the sand and pretend it isn’t happening?

Let’s assume we run an e-commerce site and a person posts a negative comment on our page, It took 2 weeks to receive my order while your site guarantees delivery within a week. What kind of service is this? For the sake of illustration, let’s also consider two possible back-end scenarios. In one scenario, the page answers, Dear so-and-so, thank you for posting on our page. We apologize for the delay. As you may recall, a team member called you when your order was returned from the delivery address entered on our site, to confirm your correct address, following which your order was reshipped. Due to this, it took more than the estimated amount of time to deliver your order.

In the second scenario, due to a technical glitch, the website accepted an order for an item that was actually out of stock and had to be ordered in a hurry on receiving the order. Assuming one doesn’t wish to make this fact public, chances are the page will remain silent or delete the comment.

At the end of the day, critical, negative comments are only deleted for most part when the organization is unable to address them in a constructive manner… a fact that is quite obvious when a comment of that genre is deleted. The cat is going to be out of the bag in any case, whether the comment is deleted or remains unanswered.

The recommended course of action is to address all negative comments, even if it means accepting the blame placed on our shoulders. For one, it assuages your members/fans that the organization is capable of accepting criticism and that their words are being noted, possibly for future action. Secondly, it sends a message within the organization that customers will notice mess-ups, which eventually will find their way to a public forum… sometimes in places where the organization will not be able to address them… a wake up call of sorts for team members who can be trained to take such events and use them to increase their focus on quality fulfillment.

Criticism is here to stay; the question is how will we address it and use it for the benefit of our organization.

 

Written by Sid Khullar for Image Management

2 thoughts on “The Most Common PR Dilemma – Delete Online Criticism or Not

  1. I agree – deleting negative criticism may only exacerbate the issue.  If a disgruntled customer confronted a staff member ‘in-store’ would the staff member simply walk away without offering any apology or explanation?  If a company is professional enough to be on Facebook then it should be transparent, and immediately reply to comments (be they negative or positive) – act with integrity, take ownership, and offer an apology – just like you would if it happened in person.

  2. I agree – deleting negative criticism may only exacerbate the issue.  If a disgruntled customer confronted a staff member ‘in-store’ would the staff member simply walk away without offering any apology or explanation?  If a company is professional enough to be on Facebook then it should be transparent, and immediately reply to comments (be they negative or positive) – act with integrity, take ownership, and offer an apology – just like you would if it happened in person.

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