5 Steps for Handling an Angry Customer on Social Media

Using social media for business rocks. Except when it doesn’t. And one of the situations that falls into every small business owner’s headache file is when an angry customer takes to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. to voice a complaint. While it’s easy to give into the urge to delete the comment or just ignore it, you need to take action. Why? Because your online reputation may depend on it.

Here are 5 simple steps for handling an angry customer on social media:

  1. Be Quick. Viral complaints have the potential to spread as quickly as a goofy kitten video, but, what’s worse, the longer it takes a small business to react, the more irate the customer becomes. Don’t let the situation get out of hand by sitting on your hands. Even if you don’t have an immediate solution, post a message that lets the customer (and everyone else on the social network) know that you’re looking into the situation and will respond or update them within a specified time frame.
  2. Be Calm. Social media is not the place to pick a fight. Every small business owner has encountered customers or buyers who are upset, unreasonable, or, sometimes, outright unpleasant. It doesn’t matter how many shout-y capital letters he or she throws your way, protect your online reputation by taking a deep breath and answering politely and professionally.
  3. Be Real. Social media users can smell a canned apology. Avoid ire-producing messages like “We’re sorry if our actions offended you…” and post a genuine, look-them-in-the-virtual-eyes apology. Use a situation appropriate response, which might range from “I’m sorry our product let you down…” to “We goofed…
  4. Be Smart. That angry customer is an opportunity for you to glean insights and ideas about products and services. After the immediate situation is resolved, hang on to that customer’s name. The next time you need to solicit feedback or ideas or even create a customer advisory board, invite that passionate voice to participate. You might just find he or she can plant the seed for your next bottom-line building upgrade, product, or service.
  5. Be Ready. You caught this angry post, tweet, or pin, but will you catch the next one? A good social media monitoring platform, like Beam Social (from my employer Social Strategy1), will deliver the real-time data you need to identify an angry customer and take positive action before he or she becomes irretrievable.

Please note that these steps are intended for angry customers. Abusive customers are an entirely different matter. In those situations, deleting abusive posts and banning the person from the Page or profile might be the appropriate solution.

Don’t let a mad customer damage your online reputation with potential clients, buyers, or investors. Start working to transform them from an angry customer into a dedicated brand fan.


Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

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