In your business ventures, you are more than likely going to run across a couple of critics on social media. They could show themselves as negative reviews, complaints, or even undesirable social media comments. These critics lurk around every corner and will pop out when you least expect them to. You could be going along your daily business tasks, checking inventory, shipping orders, and responding to clients, when, all of a sudden, BAM! A critic hits! You may feel wounded, hurt, frustrated, and even angry. How dare this person criticize your baby that you have worked so hard on? In a situation like this it is important to take a step back, breathe, and don’t make any rash decisions (as hard as it may be). The next time you have a disgruntled customer, use these five steps when handling the situation.

  1.    Read it. Of course you’ve read it. That’s why you’re so mad. But once you calm down, read it again and this time, really read it. Try to understand what they are actually saying and what they are trying to accomplish with their complaint. After all, they did take the time out of their day to contact you, so it must have been important to them.
  2.    Think about it. Think from the customer’s perspective. What happened to them to make them have a complaint? Could it have been avoided? What can you do to ease their mind and build your customer service reputation at the same time? Complaints are usually valid in some way. Take this time to understand your customer.
  3.    Respond to it. Be transparent when getting back to the client. Apologize, but don’t put the blame off on anything in particular. Apologies go a long way. Customers like to feel like their needs are being addressed. Try a generic phrase like this: “I am sorry this experience happened to you. We have since corrected the issue and it will not happen again.” Maybe even offer something for their troubles, like a coupon, if the complaint is large enough
  4.    Avoid ignoring it. Ignoring a complaint on social media won’t help. It might even make it worse. Ignoring any claim gives the impression to followers and potential customers that customer service isn’t on your top priority list. Responding to a complaint is a chance for you to gain more customers’ trust because they will be putting themselves in the critic’s shoes. Also, never delete negative comments and spam your feed with fake positive ones. It looks artificial and everyone will know what you did.
  5.    Keep it in perspective. All in all, it is only one complaint. One complaint out of 10, 20, 30 positive reviews doesn’t even compare. Don’t beat yourself up over it. There is always going to be an off day for you, your staff, or even your customers. Don’t let social media get you down. It isn’t possible to please everyone every moment of every day. Just give your best effort and provide your best services. After you handle it, let it go. Shake it off and keep on going.

A great question to ask yourself as the business owner or manager is; Who is the best person to handle your social media? The answer is different for every business, but if hiring an additional person or external company isn’t an option, making sure whoever is handling it takes it seriously and understands the importance of being cool headed. Treating the business as if it’s their own is important. Some companies including Mobloggy will do consultations and training for best practices, guidelines and help set up a schedule.

Last year, a business in Colorado went a bit off the deep end publicly, on social media, when they weren’t chosen in a local Best Of newspaper piece. Rather than accepting that they had some pretty stiff competition in their respective category, they insulted the residents of the town they had decided to do business in. The payback was swift and immense. Local residents, not happy about being insulted, took to the company’s Facebook page and Yelp page and left bad reviews. Hundreds of them. The company may never recover from this hit to their public persona, and it happened over one spur of the moment reply to what was regarded as a criticism. Eight months later, their Yelp page still has recent negative reviews that bring up the insult. Even a great social media company can’t help you quickly recover from that kind of response to criticism.