Handling customer complaints on social media

Do you ever get that sinking feeling when you open your Facebook page and your notifications say “John Smith does not like your pub” or Mary Jones gave your restaurant one star”.  Oh no! What to do?

Customer complaints and negative comments can be very damaging to your business and it’s essential you have a process for dealing with them. Read these tips to help you turn a negative customer complaint into a positive experience for your customers.

Act fast

The last thing you want is poor reviews and negative comments sitting on your social media pages for ages. It could induce another customer to join in the conversation with an experience they’d had previously, or, worse, it may deter someone from coming in.

How do you stay ahead (well abreast) of these comments?

Ensure that someone is checking your social media pages regularly. How often will depend on the amount of traffic on your pages but definitely once every 24 hours. What would be great if someone in authority could be logged in permanently with their notifications switched on. That way, each time a comment is made, they can check it immediately. Not all comments need dealing with straight away but one of those comments may be that customer complaint that needs handling – NOW!

Never leave a comment unanswered

Ignoring a negative comment or customer complaint is possibly the worst thing you can do. Not only will it look to others that you don’t care, it could incite the customer to continue in anger that s/he is being ignored.

Image by Mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

Do not delete!

We all hate being ignored but if you delete a comment it won’t go away! Imagine how that would annoy you if it happened. I’ve seen deleted comments where the sender then posted a screen shot of the deleted comment on the page for all to see – that could be so damaging for you, so it’s best avoided at all costs.

Move the conversation elsewhere

Commenting with a suggestion to continue the conversation on a different platform such as DM, email, phone etc shows to the public that you are dealing with the situation and it enables the conversation to continue in a more appropriate environment. Often, if the customer complaint isn’t really justified, the customer won’t even reply to this request!

Think like the customer

Try to see their complaint from the customer’s point of view. Yes, ok, the staff may have been under pressure that day or the rain pouring through the hole in the roof may not have been your fault but that still doesn’t take away from the fact that the customer had a poor experience. Seeing the situation from a customer’s point of view will help smooth the issue – believe me!

Don’t apologise

…for getting something wrong or for making a mistake. Not unless it is clearly a fault of your establishment but do it as a last resort.

Do apologise for the way that the customer has been made to feel or that their experience wasn’t what they expected. That way you are not admitting any liability so avoiding ‘blame’, but you are showing that you have compassion. The ‘S’ word really can go a long way in customer service, but only if used correctly.

Watch out for trolls

Sometimes people just love complaining for the sake of it and their comments are clearly invalidated OR they are like a dog with a bone and they WON’T LET IT DROP! In these cases, if you have tried all the steps above, it may be best to take different action. In this case I would recommend HIDING comments.

Hiding comments means that they can still be seen by the person who wrote them and all their followers, but no one else can see them. Usually the writer doesn’t even know the comment has been hidden. It can be an easy solution in a tricky situation. Warning: only use this as a last resort and, depending on the circumstances, warn them that you are going to do this if they continue in their behavior.

Don’t offer the earth

If your first reaction is to offer a free meal/drink/stay etc then you may leave yourself wide open to abuses of your good nature and see an increase in complaints!  If you feel some recompense is deserved, make the offer off the page.

…But offer them more than they ‘lost’

If you offer the aggrieved customer something greater than the thing they are complaining about, they can’t help but feel that you have acted appropriately and be grateful to you.

If someone had a warm pint, offer them a round of drinks. If their meal was poor/cold/wrong offer them a meal for two with a bottle of wine. If their weekend was ruined by no hot water – offer them a free night’s stay. Think about the value of repeated visits from them compared to the cost to you of what you’re offering them.

Spoil them and make them feel so special that they will not only come back again and again, make them feel so treated by your actions that they’re compelled to write a GOOD REVIEW on your pages and tell all their friends what a great place you have!

I hope these tips have been useful. If you want more help with customer complaints or with your social media, please get in touch here.

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