When dealing with customers it can sometimes feel like you are walking on eggshells. Each situation is unique and should be treated as such—but there are a few things to keep in mind when dealing with upset or negative customers on your social platforms.
Here are a few tips for handling negative comments on your business social profiles.
1. Identify the Commenter
Your first step is to identify the person with whom you are dealing. There is a big difference between someone who is upset with your business due to a valid issue and someone who is intentionally being nasty for attention. We will refer to the second type of commenter by their more common online nickname—trolls.
Understanding that both of these commenters need to be treated and handled differently is important. It’s key to remember that anything said on the internet will live forever. So when it comes time to hit that reply button, make sure that it is exactly what you want (and mean) to say.
A rightfully upset customer might say:
- “I am not happy with how I was treated today in your store.”
- “I am disappointed in your product, and I would like to talk to a manager.”
- “I don’t understand this policy, and it’s making me want to take my business somewhere else.”
These individuals are looking for a response and want to fix a problem. They may be upset, but they are open to hearing how you plan on elevating the problem. Many times these types of commenters just want to be acknowledged and know that someone is listening to them.
A troll might say:
- “UR COMANY SUKSS AND I HATE IT, GOING TO TELL EVERYONE LOL”
- “Anyone who brings their business here should take a long walk off a short pier.”
- “Did you know that if you walk into this business there is a good chance that you will develop severe acne on your face?”
Trolls are intentionally trying to cause issues or looking to throw gas on the fire. There is nothing a business can say to change a troll’s opinion. They are fishing and hoping for a response to attack back. They already know that they are wrong and their argument has nothing to back it, but it doesn’t matter. Don’t fall into the trap of over-thinking a troll’s comment, because responding rationally is futile.
2. Always Respond to a Customer
Offering a timely response can set the entire tone for the rest of the conversation. Do not let an identifiable customer sit for a week with a lack of response.
Most issues can be resolved quickly and easily. It’s good to do so publicly for two reasons:
- It shows other customers and prospective customers that you care about the issue at hand and are able to provide solutions quickly.
- Chances are another customer may have the exact same problem or question—thus helping reduce customer service time spent.
3. Show Empathy
Being positive, upbeat and empathetic will help turn these problems into wins for your business.
“Sorry that you are having these issues—have you tried doing [BLANK]? Let us know if this solves your issue, and we will try to resolve any related issues on our side.”
Anyone would have a positive perception of your company for understanding the issues, offering help and trying to resolve the issue for future customers.
If the issue is more sensitive and needs to be resolved privately, try and take the conversation offline or, at minimum, off public channels.
“Sorry to hear about this issue. We sent you a direct message so that we can further solve your issue.”
Once you have moved the conversation to a direct message, you can then go about resolving the issue in private.
4. Change Channels (When Necessary)
Offer to connect with a negative commenter over the phone, or, if possible, your most convenient location.
“We do apologize, and we want to help you figure this out. Would you be able to come in to one of our locations at your convenience or give us a call at [BLANK]?”
This approach now puts it back on the customer. If he or she comes in or calls, you can then handle the issue directly.
5. Respond to Trolls Appropriately
When it comes to dealing with trolls, it is a whole new ball game. Do not fall into their traps and try to reason with them—it’s exactly what they are hoping will happen. Always take the high road. If they continue to have negative and defamatory comments, you have the option to delete/hide these comments (comments are still visible to their connected friends, but not the public) or simply block this person from being able to comment further.
Most platforms have filters that can be set for profanity and vulgarities. If someone is using curse words, they are picked up by the platforms and the message is flagged. It will not be posted. This is a great first line of defense when it comes to dealing with trolls. These filters can be found under the settings on nearly all social platforms and allow the company to set how it wants the profanity filter to function.
6. Respond Uniquely When Possible
If your company is in a situation where multiple people might have the same issue or same type of issues, it is important to have an official response. The trick is to not copy and paste your response to each customer, as this will make you and and your business look disingenuous. Use the same verbiage and tone to help ensure that you are handling each issue and customer with the same respect and dignity. If the situation continues to happen, consider making a public post explaining what is going on and how you plan to be fix it.
7. Make Note
Take notes on everything. Every time you have an issue or need to respond to a customer about a problem, track it. Being able to measure and track how to take action will help you and your company resolve issues more quickly and ensure better customer service. This also allows a recorded path so your customer can’t come back and note that his or her issue was ignored.
It doesn’t matter how big your company is—not responding to a question on social media is like not picking up the phone if someone is calling. It might seem like a small thing, but how your company is perceived on social media can make or break you.