Customer concepts

Imagine that you run a local coffee shop.  A customer comes in and they’re unsatisfied.  Maybe they think that their drink wasn’t made up to par, or they feel the drive-thru service took too long.  Or they could be having a bad day and taking it out on the nearest target.  Regardless of the reason, would you be rude to this disgruntled customer? Would you just ignore them until they went away?  Probably not. So, why is it that complaints on social media are often ignored or treated as a nuisance?

In truth, treating an upset customer well is probably the best way to create a long-lasting fan of your work. And, since social media managers are often on the front-line, receiving angry and upset posts, tweets or DMs, it’s important for us to have an action plan for handling complaints on behalf of our brand. So here’s a quick, five-step guide to turning those complaints into satisfied customers.

1. Always respond

Ignoring a disgruntled customer might not be the worst reaction, but it’s pretty high up there. At their core, everyone wants to be acknowledged; even with the unreasonable requests or complaints, it’s better to tread lightly than to not move forward at all.

2. Show understanding

Let the customer know that you understand why they are upset and, if you don’t know why they’re upset, do your best to figure it out. Showing understanding isn’t the same as accepting blame, but can go a long way to helping a customer feel more satisfied.

3. Be honest

As children, we probably all learned that a little white lie normally just digs a deeper hole for us to fall in. It’s important to never fib to an unsatisfied (or any) customer. If a situation was your company’s fault, own up to it; your honesty will most likely be appreciated. If it wasn’t, don’t take blame but do your best to give honest information to help a customer figure out what went wrong. But remember, being honest doesn’t have to mean an impolite or insensitive response.

4. Offer reasonable alternatives

Once you figure out what went wrong, you should offer at least one option to better the situation; but remember to make the offer reasonable to both the customer and your company. Offers should be easy for a customer to redeem, but shouldn’t put a huge obstacle on everyday business in your organization. It’s important to remember that some dissatisfied social-media users are just trying to get a rise out of you and your company; if a reasonable alternative is turned down with insult or anger, apologize, end the conversation and know you gave a good-faith effort to correct the situation.

5. Stay genuine

It’s important to remain genuine in all social media use, especially when handling a dissatisfied fan or customer. Know your brand(s) and be confident speaking to social media users on behalf of your employer. This sometimes means that you’ll know when a complaint needs to be turned over to a different department to handle. If you stay true to your company’s beliefs and policies, you won’t have to worry about an interaction with any customer – positive or negative – affecting your brand’s image online.

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