Dealing With Customer Complaints on Social Media

Dealing With Customer Complaints on Social Media
Chris Lonergan
Chris Lonergan June 29, 2018

Growing up, I remember times when family members were complaining about businesses. Whether they were a local business or a national conglomerate – I distinctly remember them saying, "I'm going to have to write them a letter about this!"

Those days are long gone. Thanks to the internet and the interconnected world we now live in – you'll never have to use a postage stamp to lodge a complaint. Social media offers increased ease of access for negative reviews and complaints from customers. Whether the customer complaints on social media are warranted or not doesn't really matter – what matters is the public nature of negative reviews and what you can do to correct the issues.

Let's talk about how you should prepare your business and a go over a few tactics for finding resolution, so that you can be ready to deal with customer complaints on social media.

Have a Strong Social Media Presence to Give a Solid Target for Customer Complaints

That may sound a little counterintuitive to more efficiently dealing with customer complaints – but hear me out. There are lots of places on online for customers to leave reviews and comments. In the majority of cases, the end goal is to either...

  • To come to an honest resolution to the underlying problems
  • To complain loud enough for others to see and hear.

In either situation, you want to know exactly where they are doing this – so that you can have advanced warning and opportunity to address the situation. If you don't have a well-curated social media presence, upset customers may try to leave reviews on duplicate listings or accounts, or perhaps more obscure places like YellowPages that you – as a business owner – wouldn't regularly access during your ongoing marketing efforts.

Having places of high activity mean that your reviewer will have maximum impact, which is what they want. So once you've given upset customers a good target, what do you do when you actually get a complaint?

Be Responsive – React Quickly But Calmly

I've had conversations with many contractors about why they don't feel comfortable replying to reviews, and even a few times where we've had to make recommendations about editing their response for the sake of public image.

Reaction time is important. On platforms that allow for reply, you don't want to have a negative review sitting out for weeks or months without a response from you.

How to Address Social Media Customer Complaints So That Everyone Wins

You would be thinking of your reply more as a "response" than a "rebuttal".

Of course there are two sides to every story, but calling someone out for stretching the truth or retorting with your own harsh words is – guaranteed – not going to win you business from a total stranger reading your reviews. Instead, it will serve as a warning sign that will drive away prospective clients.

Remember that your response really isn't meant to satisfy you.

It should be written to satisfy 1) the person who left the initial review and 2) prospective clients passing by. Replies to reviews should be on-point and only as long as necessary.

Sample Replies to Customer Complaints on Social Media

If you feel that the review may not actually be a client who has used your services before – either from the review name or context clues, you can subtly identify the situation as such...

Our apologies – Based on the information here, we cannot identify your service ticket / customer record / history of previous client activity. Please contact me directly at ###-###-#### so that we can review your experience with us and take steps to ensure your satisfaction.

You never want to outright claim that a reviewer isn't acting truthfully – whether they accidentally reviewed the wrong company name or if they are maliciously trying to leave bad reviews. That only adds flame to the fire.

Similarly, if you have a valid customer complaint, you could reply with a message that indicates concern and a want to remedy the situation to their satisfaction...

Our apologies that you were not completely satisfied with our services. I would like to personally review the situation, so that we can come to an understanding and take the appropriate steps necessary to ensure your satisfaction and to continue to improve our business. Please contact me directly at ###-###-#### so that we can discuss this together.

The important thing to do in any situation is to attempt to diffuse, not rile up. A public tit-for-tat only creates more problems. That's why your goal should always be to...

Take the Conversation Offline

In a private conversation via phone or email, your customer can more fully express themselves and their problems. More often than not, they simply want to be heard. Once you engage in a conversation and understand their problems, you can work to provide the appropriate remedy.

When you are dealing with customer complaints on social media, your attempts to remedy the situation when the job goes bad should be authentic; this is the good name of the business you work so hard to build and grow, and customers can tell the difference between patronizing and really talking.

When the dust settles, you can convert the previously upset client with a negative review into a very satisfied customer. When the time is right and if they do so, you could ask them to update their review to a positive experience or to remove their review completely if they choose to do so.

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