The internet has become an essential marketing tool for all manner of businesses and the growth of social media has also given firms opportunities to interact with customers.  But social media can equally be a threat to businesses, when individuals use it to make complaints about them. Here’s an essential guide on how to deal with complaints made on social media.

Always respond

For the majority of the time, a well-run organisation will probably enjoy the benefits of positive feedback from customers on social media sites.  But, occasionally, they may be subjected to negative criticism, whether unfounded or not.  Negative comments written on social media sites can be damaging for a company, because it has a tendency to spread like wildfire, and be more memorable to consumers than positive comments.

As an organisation aiming to safeguard its reputation, you need to be on the ball and act quickly.  For starters, you’ll need to keep an eye on all of the relevant social media sites on a regular basis, so that you are aware of what people are saying about you.  If you do see something that casts you in a bad light, then respond immediately.  Never ignore the message, and certainly never delete it.  People will be waiting in anticipation for your reply.

Deal with the matter

The best course of action you can take is to rectify the situation as quickly and as seamlessly as possible.  Maintain a courteous, polite approach and always apologise, even if the complaint is largely unjustified.  Detail how you are going to solve the complaint, what steps you will take and when.  Always stay professional and calm, and never use an aggressive tone – even if the complainer does.  You’re more likely to regain customer trust easier if you show a caring and professional manner.  In some cases, you may even want to offer some form of compensation to the complainer (if it is justified) – such as vouchers.  But, at the least, you should offer to replace any faulty items, if necessary.

Document communications

Always keep a note of communications sent between you and the complainer.  Some individuals are professional complainers and are out to try and slip companies up, with the intention of suing them.  Always make sure you are on your guard in who you are dealing with.  Keep control of the situation, consult expert advice and opinion, and never write anything that could be misconstrued in a controversial manner.

Plan of action

You can probably diffuse any complaints being widely broadcasted on social media sites if you have a robust strategy and procedure policy already set in place for handling complaints.  Lots of companies have a section on their website detailing what you should do, should you have a complaint.  If customers know where to go, then they are less likely to vent their frustrations about you on social media sites.

Not all complaints are negative

Feedback of any kind is extremely useful for an organisation.  And whilst you don’t really want to publicly read negative feedback about you on social media sites, it can actually be a positive learning lesson for you.  If you respond swiftly and appropriately to the complaint, and resolve the issue, then don’t dismiss what has happened.  Use the experience to learn from, so to avoid it happening again.  The complaint may actually bring things to light that you weren’t aware was happening within your organisation, in which case you can make changes to improve the way things are being run.


About the Author

By James Harper for UK Print Price: UKs leading printing website.