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Sherlock writer demonstrates how to charm the complainers

Ronnie Gunn | 05 Jan, 2017 | Return|
What marketers can learn from the criticism of Sherlock Holmes

The very public but well natured spat between the co-writer of Sherlock and Ralph Jones writing in The Guardian is an excellent example of how to turn the negative into a positive. Jones very clearly does not like how he feels the televised character has morphed from killer wordsmith, scientist and nerd to all action spy, Sherlock Bond as he calls him, and he lays the blame squarely at the door of co-writer Mark Gatliss. 

This could have easily degenerated into a case of ‘laptops at dawn’. However, Gatliss responded with dignity and professionalism by penning a poem in his defence, citing examples in the Conan Doyle stories of when Sherlock invoked physical force in his dealings with the criminal world. 

There is a lesson for us all here in how we might respond to public criticism of our business, our products, our services. How we respond says a lot about who we are as people and how we represent and value our business.

Here are some ideas about how to respond to negative criticism in this online world in which we operate.

  1.  Firstly, take a deep intake of breath.  It is probably better not to respond when the red mist is still clouding your judgement. Otherwise, the chances are you are going to live to regret it. And remember, a tweet fired off in anger will be seen by more than just the intended recipient. 
  2.  On the other hand, don’t go silent. Ignoring negative comment smacks of ‘I don’t care’ and suggests overconfidence. 
  3.  Don’t pass the blame onto someone else and especially not the person making the criticism! 
  4.  Acknowledge the comment or feedback with a calming response like “We are sorry to hear you are unhappy with …..we take customer’s comments/feedback very seriously.”  
  5.  Provide a route to resolving the situation rather than trying to resolve it publicly and online. Suggest that the customer/prospective customer contact your Customer Service department to discuss the specifics of the complaint.  Contact the Customer Service department ahead so that they are primed. Alternatively, ask the complainant to ‘direct message’ their email address so that the conversation can be taken offline.

Always keep your business ‘hat’ on and never let a complaint become personal. BBI Brandboost are experienced in managing social media accounts on behalf of their business clients and would be pleased to hear from you if this is an area you would like support with.

About the Author

Ronnie Gunn

Ronnie Gunn

As Head of Communications, Ronnie focuses on content writing, PR and media relations. Throughout a long journalistic and business career, he has developed an exceptional talent for spotting a good story and knowing how to tell it. His varied experience allows him to understand complex technical subjects like precision engineering and appreciate the key selling points of consumer markets such as travel.

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