Menu

It’s one of the worst scenarios for any business that takes pride in its online persona – a customer complaint via social media.

If that sounds rather dramatic, it’s worth bearing in mind how powerful the customer’s voice is in the digital age. The most innocuous comment, or the shortest sentence written in anger about your products or service can gain worldwide exposure if they’re shared and liked by enough people.

If you’re in business, the likelihood is that this will happen to your company at some point, no matter how hard you try to stop it from happening. You can’t please everyone and with social media such an easily accessible channel for venting one’s frustrations, it’s inevitable that there will be one or two negative mutterings about you online at some point.

The key to minimising or eradicating the damage lies in how you approach and deal with the complaint.

So, without further ado, here’s our ten-step process to dealing with customer complaints on social media.

1. Spot them

Clearly, the first thing you need is the ability to spot complaints on social media before they take place under your nose and cause more of a stink than is necessary.

Thankfully, there are lots of tools you can use to listen out for mentions of your business online. Your customer relationship management (CRM) system might offer such functionality, but tried-and-tested platforms like Hootsuite and Mention work brilliantly for setting up alerts of mentions online.

2. Don’t dilly-dally

One of the worst things you can do in the event of a social media complaint is hang around and wait forever to respond.

Reacting quickly is an important part of this process. You don’t have to solve the problem immediately, either – you just need to demonstrate that you’re responsive and that you care about the customer in question. You want to make it right, so tell the world that’s the case – quickly.

3. Think about it from their perspective

Whenever we receive complaints about our business it can be difficult not to take them extremely personally. After all, this is your baby – how dare someone tell you it’s not what it’s lived up to be?

This feeling is natural – you’re not doing anything wrong. However, in order to deliver a measured, fair and transparent response, it pays to put yourself in the shoes of the customer.

Think about it from their side – how would you feel if you experienced the same issue or problem they have? Try and remove all emotional attachment to the business and think like the customer – it’ll put you in the right frame of mind to respond.

4. Look deeply into the complaint

Now you’ve responded and taken time to calm yourself, it’s time to look more deeply into the issue.

Speak to every staff member involved and look at any records of the customer’s interaction with your company. Look for areas where you have indeed slipped up and the elements you can improve upon.

Don’t reply fully until you have a solid idea in your mind of exactly what happened.

5. Take it offline

This won’t work with every complainant, but the vast majority will accept your offer to take the conversation offline.

Just make note on the conversation thread on the social media platform in question that the offer is available, so people can see how seriously you’re taking the complaint.

Often, you’ll find people are far calmer and more amenable on the phone, making it easier to resolve big issues.

6. Remain cool

A little tip worth repeating…

Keep your cool. Don’t let those emotional attachments to the business get in the way of resolving the complaint – you’ve come this far! Stay level headed and keep yourself firmly in the customer’s shoes.

7. Apologise

Sometimes, this will be all that’s required – a heartfelt, honest apology.

Even if you know from your research that there are inconsistencies with the complaint and you’re not entirely sure it’s valid – an apology is still needed, because this person has clearly been upset enough by something to reach out and make the complaint in the first place.

8. Offer a solution

If the apology only goes part way to fixing the problem, it’s time to offer the solution.

The solution is something you’ll have worked out from the research you carry out in step 4. It will address the issue and provide something of tangible benefit for the complainant.

This might be a replacement product, refund or discount on their next purchase, but whatever it is, make sure it is of value and not something clearly intended to try and keep them at bay.

9. Correct anything that isn’t right

Now you’ve settled the situation and the complainant is more satisfied with the resolution, you can approach anything that wasn’t quite right in their complaint.

This step certainly isn’t intended to give them a lecture in why they were wrong about something, merely to highlight where there was a misunderstanding, or where your staff genuinely made a human error and didn’t intend to do whatever it was that the complainant feels was intentional.

It’s still important to stand up for your business in these situations, so don’t feel like you have to bow to every element of the complaint – particularly when you’ve offered a solution.

10. Rinse and repeat, whenever this happens

As mentioned – you’ll encounter these complaints now and again throughout the lifecycle of your business, but the above steps should work each and every time.

Just make sure you follow them in order, and do so unhurriedly. This stuff takes time!

Final thought
Remember – the world is watching your social media presence. Any interaction you have with a customer (happy or disgruntled) will be on view for all to see.

Use our tips above, and those interactions will do nothing other than paint your business in the best possible light. And, while not every unhappy customer can be turned around, you’ll successfully win back more of them than you ever thought possible.

Final thought

Remember – the world is watching your social media presence. Any interaction you have with a customer (happy or disgruntled) will be on view for all to see.

Use our tips above, and those interactions will do nothing other than paint your business in the best possible light. And, while not every unhappy customer can be turned around, you’ll successfully win back more of them than you ever thought possible.