Taking the Heat: Responding to Online Criticism

May 28, 2021
NMS-Millennials-Blog-Mar20.jpg Unfortunately, in today’s era of online overreaction and unfounded critique, you can’t control the vitriol that might come your way when you own a funeral home or cremation center. The death care industry customer is unique because the emotional environment is one that can push their stress to the limit. Often, the funeral service provider can be a target of some of that stress, and it can cause customer-relationship scenarios to be challenging. Sometimes, you can do everything right, but due to the situations that the family is dealing with, it just doesn’t seem like it's enough, and you can become the victim of some misguided anger or grief. These emotions can manifest themselves online, and that can sully your reputation.

Online sounding boards, like Yelp, Google, and even social media platforms, can provide an outlet for customers to vent, whether justified or not. With no need for fact-checking and no face-to-face conversation, the one-sided stories don’t always tell the complete truth about the situation being discussed. But once the heat has been turned up in those comments, it puts you in control of the response. Here are some tips for responding to negative online criticism in the death care industry.
1. Don’t Avoid the Comments.
You don’t want to bury your head in the sand in these situations. Good and bad, you should always respond to reviews. Don’t wait too long either. In today’s fast-paced world, to be convinced that their voice is heard, customers want to see a response within 24 hours or so. Waiting too long can prompt another comment and begin a downward spiral of negativity. The last thing you want to do is see things escalate.
2. Respond Publicly.
Some take online criticism as the digital equivalent of a glove slap to the cheek. While it isn’t a challenge to a fight, it does need to be addressed appropriately in the public eye first. Respond with something like “I’m sorry that you had this type of experience with us. I’m sending you a direct message to discuss this further.” This lets people know that you are not avoiding the conflict, but you also want to handle things personally rather than publicly. As long as you are showing that you are willing to work on a solution, most consumers will accept your efforts.
3. Don’t Take Things Personally.

Even though the words and comments might seem very personal, when you start the conversation privately, you will most likely find out that the frustration is a culmination of events that unfolded during a very stressful time. While dealing with you, the family member has also been dealing with insurance companies, hospitals, other family members, florists, caterers, and whomever else (and a pandemic). They might find you to be the easiest to speak out against for any number of reasons, but it doesn’t mean you should take what they say to heart. Understand and listen with an objective ear, but don’t let a negative comment ruin your day.

4. Apologize.

You don’t have to apologize for anything you didn’t do, but you can at least apologize for the experience that led to this situation. A simple “I’m really sorry that you feel like we let you down” or “I’m sorry you feel this way about our company” can be an admission of the failure of a situation without an admission of guilt. Sometimes, it’s as simple as the person who is upset wanting to be heard, and this is your way of saying “you are heard.”

5. Take the Next Step
In our industry, it might be too late to make things right from an experience perspective. See what you can do to make a difference. It might be worth a partial refund in some situations to smooth things out. It might be an apology and a gift card to Starbucks. There might be no amicable resolution other than an agreement to disagree. Whatever a resolution looks like, work hard to find one that appeases both sides.
6. Humbly Ask for a Retraction
Once a resolution is reached, ask for them to remove their post, review, or comment. They might be willing to edit, but it’s usually better to just have it removed. If they choose to replace it with a favorable review, that’s great. If not, having it removed is a result you can live with.

National Mortuary Shipping & Cremation understands that the death care industry extends beyond the walls of your facility.
It is digital just as much as any other industry. As the industry changes, so do we. Our goal is to make your business run smoothly and help you avoid these negative types of posts. Let us know what we can do to help you shine in the face of adversity. Contact NMS today!


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