If your company or organization has a social media presence, there is a 100% chance that at some point a negative comment, complaint or photo will make its way to your page. People complain and they want to be heard. Eventually, they will determine that the best way to get in touch with your organization is to contact you through social media. It’s this inevitability that often scares companies away from creating a social media presence for their brand. Their thoughts: Why provide unhappy customers a forum to voice their negative opinions that everyone can see? On the surface, this may seem like an odd choice. After all, you wouldn’t take unhappy customer emails and send them out to the world. However, customers are going to use social media to complain. It’s a fact. But if you have a social presence, and they come to you to voice their complaint rather posting it on their personal profile, it puts you in control of handling the situation. For example, if Susie Q’s pizza was cold when it was delivered, and she complained about this cold pizza on her own Facebook page, the company would have no chance to respond unless she just so happens to be Facebook friends with the company’s social media manager. But if Susie Q complains about cold pizza on the company’s Facebook page, the social media manager can not only address the issue but also show the public that the company does care about the quality of their pizzas after all.
So how should you handle negative social media posts and comments?
First, get the complaining customer off of the page. This doesn’t mean delete them or block them or delete their comment. It means that you need to have the customer contact you elsewhere—somewhere that is free from eyes of other customers. Set up an email address strictly for social media conversations. For example: [email protected] When you respond to the customer, apologize that the event happened to them, and ask if they will send you more details at your dedicated email address. A good way to make sure that they do email you instead of continuing the rant on your page is to ask that they email you so that you can get their contact information securely. Most people aren’t going to put even their own email address on a public Facebook page, so by doing this, you have a good chance that they will email you instead.
Next, when the customer does email your social media email account, use this opportunity to turn the complaining customer into the customer that is singing your praises. After all, you already know that this customer is vocal. Why not work the situation so that they end up being vocal about your company in a positive way? Be human. Show genuine, honest concern that this customer had a negative experience with your company. Ask questions, apologize, promise to rectify the situation with the offending employee if necessary and give the customer some form of an “I’m sorry” gift, whether that be a gift card or a 10% discount. If you make them happy, there is a chance that they will share that happiness the same way they shared their disappointment.
It’s important to remember that complaints on social media will not go away. If you ignore them, you risk the customer being ignored running to his/her friends and family and complaining that your company doesn’t care about its customers. Responding is beneficial to both you and the customer. Because if the post itself gets shared, so does your positive and genuine comment of concern.