How To Handle Unhappy Customers On Social Media

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From Trolls To the Genuinely Displeased, Taking the High Road Will Reflect Better Overall

Social media is widely lauded as a great marketing tool for businesses, especially for small businesses and start-ups. It gives you access to a large pool of people which you can leverage without spending a ton of money on (unlike traditional methods of marketing that are usually expensive).

But social media is a two-edged sword. On the one hand it gives you instant visibility on a grand scale, boosting your marketing efforts and improving your search rankings. But on the other hand, one bad episode can undo a lot of your hard work.

SEE ALSO: Why Your Brand Needs Social Customer Service

The good and the bad both spread very fast on the internet and both can be very difficult to manage.

People usually turn to social media to fight negative publicity and build a good image for themselves, but what happens when social media itself becomes a vehicle of negative comments for you?

More specifically, what does a startup, who has been a victim of targeted or untargeted negative social media, do to fight it and keep its image intact?

Don’t Fight Fire with Fire

It is a challenge dealing with disgruntled customers who are also very vocal, but you shouldn’t get into a combative mode to deal with the situation.

Criticism of your company, product, service, or plans is not targeted at you personally. It’s extremely important to make this distinction and bear it in mind.

SEE ALSO: 4 Mistakes Businesses Have Made On Twitter

If you’re in charge of your business’s social media, you need to ensure that you do not let any comment annoy you to the point that your professionalism starts to slip. If somebody is really driving you up the wall with their behavior, take a break and return to the comment when you are calmer and in a better frame of mind to deal with it.

Take ’Em Up on Their Comments

People can be very irrational, impulsive, and unforgiving in their comments. Especially when it involves a bad experience after paying for your product or service.

There’s nothing you can do to stop them from doing so but you should never let a negative remark just be.

You don’t want to get into arguments with annoyed posters, but you do want to determine the cause of their annoyance.

Social media puts everything out in the open—praise, criticism, and the works—so you’ll want to make sure that readers (followers/visitors to your web page) do not get the wrong message.

You must speak up promptly and do it the right way.

Dealing with Grievances

Assuming somebody is lambasting you based on a genuine, you want to first:

  • Sincerely apologize to the customer in question for their bad experience.
  • Next, acknowledge their problem. Nothing calms down an annoyed person more than agreeing with them that they have a good reason to feel the way they do. This also conveys to others at large that you do care for the inconvenience caused to your customers.
  • And finally, you want to determine the cause of their upset and then actively work on resolving their problem. To determine the exact nature of the problem, ask them to email you the relevant details. If a person is interested in a resolution to their problem, they will oblige.

Dealing with Ill-Informed Comments

These are another very common type of comments, often denigrating into full-blown personal attacks.

For example, if you’re an Android user, you might have encountered nasty comments aimed at app developers in Google Play store.

Not all app developers reply to negative comments and to those who give their apps a low rating, but many do, and some do it in a textbook-perfect way.

Check out the following response of one app developer to an unsatisfied user:

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And here’s the same app developer responding to another user, who was less kind with his words:

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 What the Above Accomplished

Hearing back from the app developer made the first user, who had downloaded, installed, and used the app feel like their time matters.

By addressing their concerns calmly, the app developer helped not just one user but others with a similar problem as well.

SEE ALSO: Tune In Your Social Media For Better Customer Focus

Do keep in mind that not everybody is vocal about their problems and some just silently categorize you as an inefficient developer and move on. But by addressing user A’s problems in an open and honest manner, the app developer saved himself from losing a few subscribers.

You could try a similar response the next time somebody blows their top on your social media page.

Although a bit of humor might do it, too:

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Dealing with Trolls

Not everybody has a legitimate grievance. Some feel the need to slate you without even having tried your product or service.

You should deal with such people, including trolls, as professionally as you deal with those with real problems.

Usually, user comments shouldn’t be deleted unless they are laced with abuse or racism. Even then, it is your prerogative whether you want to delete them or not.

However, deleting comments of those overcritical of your business is childish. And it might backfire if others spot the comments before you get to delete them. It’s always better to face the criticism bravely than to run away from it.

As a start-up, you want to build your credibility, which is a long and painstaking process. Social media can be of great help to you in making this happen.

The problem with negative comments and full-blown attacks on your social media pages should be tackled in a professional and mature way; if mishandled, it will reflect poorly on you and mar the very thing that you are trying to build –credibility for your company and/or brand.

Done the right way (as described in this post) you can turn the negative comments around by using them as an opportunity to know more about your customers and the problems they may be facing.

RELATED: 5 Tips To Help You Respond To A Negative Review

Image: iStockphoto

About The Author

Richard Cassidy serves as Director of Sales for Administrate, an online training administration system that helps training providers around the world save time and money. After three years as a Royal Marine Commando, Richard hung up his boots to launch Software as a Service (SaaS) products in the global healthcare and aviation sectors, before joining Administrate in 2011.