Responding to Criticism: How’s Your Online Rep?

By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, Contributing Editor, REALTOR® Magazine

If a customer is unhappy with your service, don’t be surprised if he takes to the Internet to voice his frustrations about you. If you venture to review sites — such as the popular rating site — you may find a venting client giving you low marks for customer service.

You can’t please everyone, and sometimes clients may consider your work not up to par, even if you did do everything you could.

So what do you do when you find yourself on the receiving end of negative online reviews?

Monitor your online presence so you can be aware of any negative comments posted about you online, and respond to them, Stacey Harmon, founder of, told a crowd of real estate professionals at the Inman News Agent Reboot in San Diego on Wednesday. Agent Reboot is a series of one-day conferences nationwide that highlight the latest marketing and technology trends.

Harmon recommended handling criticism in the following way:

1. Find the negative comment. First, you have to know what people are saying about you. One way to do this: Set an alert at (it’s free!). When the keywords you set — such as your name and company — surface on the Internet, you’ll be notified via e-mail with a link to where it appears.

2. Respond immediately. Acknowledge that you’ve seen it. But take your emotion out of it — even if that person’s gripes seem unfair, Harmon says. Don’t apologize. Instead, she recommends writing something along the lines: “I hear you are unhappy with the service I provided.” Then provide your e-mail and phone number to invite that person to talk with you more about it. You’re showing other people that you’re professional and welcome feedback.

3. Get other people to talk positively about you in the same place. Don’t let the negative comment override positives about you. You want positive comments to appear in the same place so that it will outweigh any negative comment posted on that site, Harmon says.

Get more tips: Managing Your Online Reputation

Melissa Tracey

Melissa Dittmann Tracey is a contributing editor for REALTOR® Magazine, writing about home & design trends, technology, and sales and marketing. She manages the magazine's award-winning Styled, Staged & Sold blog.

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  1. Thanks for the mention Melissa! I find that one of the most common objections Realtor have to engaging in social media is a fear of public criticism. Hopefully the above steps provide a system and perspective for addressing the fear and helps to allow agents to experience all the rave reviews and positive interactions that can also be found on line. (BTW, I’m following my own advice and found your post through the a Google alert I have set up for my name – worked great!)

  2. Thanks for the great info. I’m going to look into google alerts.