How To Deal With Disgruntled Customers On Social Media



No one looks forward to dealing with complaints made against their company on social media. However, there are ways to mitigate the damage done.


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If you manage social media, it’s happened to you. Everything’s going well. You’re creating great content that’s hitting all the right metrics. Then it happens, someone leaves a bad review or decides to completely bash your brand on social media. It’s every social media managers worst nightmare. While it’s easy to dismiss them as someone who will never be made happy and hope they go away, that’s not the answer.

Savvy social media users know they will get a response from you if they put you on blast. No one likes being publicly shamed, but everything is public these days. While we don’t have to be happy about it, we do have to acknowledge it.

Negative reviews have a huge influence on how people view your brand. Inc.’s Andrew Thomas wrote, “It takes roughly 40 positive customer experiences to undo the damage of a single negative review.” To make matters worse, The New York Times reports that not only can online reviews be questionable, but that people also pay more attention to negative ones because they are perceived as more informative.

For sanity’s sake, it’s important to acknowledge that we can’t win every battle. There are times where damage control is more important than making the customer happy. In order to figure out what type of situation you are dealing with, you should know that there are two main types of people who will provide negative feedback on social media: the ones that will give you a bad review while sitting in the restaurant and the other who feels like they gave you a chance before they took it public but someone at your company only made the issue worse.

The Complainer With No Real Problem

When dealing with the person who’s complaining for the sake of complaining or is fishing for free stuff, I’m not going to tell you the customer is always right, they aren’t. We’ve all heard horror stories of people walking into an Italian restaurant and get irate when they find out that they can’t order sushi. You can’t win them all and there’s no reasoning with some people, which is why you have to focus on those who want you to succeed or at the very least are not purposely setting you up for failure.

If you find yourself dealing with someone whose complaint isn’t logical, respond with your side of the story. However, don’t attack the customer because no matter how wrong the reviewer is, personal attacks will only look petty and turn people off. Instead, calmly explain why a certain situation happened. While that won’t work if the reviewer created a fictional account, you can apologize and ask for the reviewer to reach out to a manager, so that the situation can be resolved offline.

The Person Who Has A Real Problem

Going public may not have been this person’s first choice. Often, the social media department doesn’t know about every interaction a particular person has had with a company. For all you know, your brand’s customer service department could have completely failed at its job and this person feels that calling you out and stating their case for the world to see may be their last chance to get a wrong righted. Also, people know that if they are being treated poorly, there is a good chance they’re not the only one with a bad experience dealing with a company and they may be seeking validations from others.

In this case, it’s important to be human. If your company did something wrong or ran out of a product that his person should have been able to purchase, admit it. You won’t undo the damage poorly trained customer service personal did, but you will make the person feel like someone at this company understands my problem. The first thing you should do is tell the customer that someone will be reaching out privately. Once the customer realizes you are on their side, they will feel like they finally have someone who is willing to help.

Yes, you may be limited in what you can. Yes, the only thing you may be able to do is hear them out. However, you are able to do enough to smooth things over and get positive feedback for handling the situation satisfactorily.

When trying to fix the situation, don’t offer coupons or free stuff in public.  Unfortunately, may customers have had experiences where going public is the only way to get a company to do something. However, it’s fine to offer 20 percent off their next purchase or a free meal to show that your company screwed up and is fully aware of it. You want to do this privately so that everyone doesn’t think this is a great way to get something for free.

Regardless of a person’s reasons for making their issues with your brand public, it’s important to remain professional and treat the person with respect even when they don’t deserve it. Otherwise, any good you’ve done for your brand will quickly be rendered worthless as people will switch to competitors that have better reputations.

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