How to Handle Customer Complaints on Social Media

social media customer service

Knowing how to handle customer service through social media is an important part of your marketing efforts.  We’re going to talk specifically about Facebook in this post but the principles we discuss apply to all of your platforms.

It used to be that if a customer wanted to file a complaint they had to march into a manager’s office, scribble out a letter, face a sales clerk, or write it on a piece of paper and stick in the complaint box.  Very few of your other clients would ever hear about that one unhappy customer.  Now, your clients can lodge their complaint right on your Facebook timeline to you and all of your followers.  They don’t have to face you directly which allows them a bit of anonymity.

Your initial reaction may be to delete a negative comment but take it as an opportunity to learn what’s going on at your business.  Here are a couple of examples of different complaint posts that you might encounter ( but hopefully not!) on your Facebook page:

Example 1:

Andy posts on your wall:

                “I came into your store today and was treated very rudely by your sales manager.  I have shopped at your store for several years and have never experienced this kind of horrible customer service.  It was extremely disappointing.”

If I encounter Example 1, my reaction is to help.  I want to make things right!  A regular, paying customer is unhappy and I want to make them happy again.  The fact that Andy let me know there was a problem at my store means that I need to speak with a sense of gratitude.  Andy has shopped for years at the store and I want him to continue to be a loyal customer.   It will take some kind words and maybe a nice, big discount or gift card, but I want to show Andy and my followers that customer service is a key priority.

                “Andy, I’m so disappointed to hear that such a loyal customer (actually any customer!) had a bad experience at our store.  Please accept my sincere apologies.  I will be sending you a private Facebook message so that we can discuss how to rectify this problem.  We want our customers to enjoy shopping at Acme and experience the best in customer care.”

Example 2:

Teresa posts on your wall:

                “I came into your stupid store today and was treated like *&^* by your sales manager. What a *^%*&!  I have never shopped at your store before and I never will again!  You suck and so does your store.”

The good news is that Example 2 doesn’t happen very often, if ever.  If this scenario were to happen on your Facebook page, how would you handle it?  First, remember to Think Things Through First!  Don’t get angry and type out a heated response.  Step away from the keyboard and take some deep breaths.  Teresa is way out of line.  Even if the service was horrible there is really never any need to use that kind of language on a Facebook business page to make your point.  Delete the comment.  You don’t want obscenities on your wall.  After you delete it, you then have a couple of options.  You can message Teresa and see if you can work out the problem. You could also address the deleted post with a response. Remember, once the post goes up it is seen by followers.  Just removing it doesn't mean no one has read it.

“Please know that Acme takes customer service very seriously and we want to make sure every customer has an enjoyable shopping experience. We have taken down a customer complaint due to harsh language but we will not ignore the issue.  ”

This is the professional response that I would advise to most business.  Don’t be afraid to use a little creativity with your responses though.  Check out this response from MaxiPad to a tongue-in-cheek negative Facebook post on their page.  By using their advertising genius they responded to the post and generated a marketing super storm.  They pushed the boundaries and it worked! 

I hope you never encounter a negative comment on your Facebook page but if it does happen, be sure to take the time to think out a proper, professional response.  The responses you put out there are the branding of your company.

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