10 Ways to Deal With Upset Customers Using Social Media

social media how toHow are you responding to upset customers?

No matter what you sell or what industry you’re in, you’re going to experience negative word of mouth.

You know, those customers who are expressing their complaints on social media.

It just happens.

Things break, problems come up and employees have bad days. But it’s how you handle it that separates you from everyone else.

Remember: Negative word of mouth is an opportunity.

A great response strategy can convert angry and upset customers into loyal, raving fans. The rule of thumb is that while unhappy customers talk to 5 people, formerly unhappy customers you win back talk to 10.

So get out there and embrace the negativity. Start responding. Here are 10 steps you can take to stop the negative, earn new fans and generate a ton of respect.

#1: You Can’t Respond to Conversations You Don’t See

Great response starts with great listening.

  • Set up Google Alerts for your brand and industry keywords.
  • Keep a close eye on your Facebook page.
  • Listen on Twitter.
  • Depending on the type of business you have, read reviews on sites such as Yelp, TripAdvisor and Zagat.
  • Make a list of any forums or communities where your customers congregate and regularly check in on them.

Whether you’re paying attention or not, the conversations are happening. But a great listening program makes it easier for you to catch negative buzz and spot issues before they build momentum and become much harder to turn around.

google alerts

Google alerts are free, easy to set up, and instantly help you keep an eye on key conversations.

#2: Determine if it’s Worth a Response

Not all negative comments are worth a response, and not all critics are worth trying to win over. Sometimes, as hard as it can be, it’s best just to move on.

Avoid these situations:

  • The criticism is on a really small blog or forum, and your response will only bring attention and credibility to an issue nobody saw in the first place.
  • It’s a blatant attack that’s clearly rude and outrageous—and anyone who reads it can see the critic has a personal problem.
  • A known crackpot who is only looking to pick a fight.

There’s just no way to win in these scenarios. So stay out, move on, keep your head up and focus on the wrongs you can right.

#3: Act Quickly

When you’re facing negative word of mouth, time is not on your side. The longer you wait to respond, the angrier the customer will get—and the more likely others will pick up on the issue and spread the negative buzz.

At the very least, say this:

“Hi, my name is ____ and I hear you. We’re looking into it now, and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible. If you have any questions, contact me directly at _____.”

A message like this does two things:

  • The ranter knows he or she has your attention—there’s much less incentive to keep spreading the anger and
  • It makes a real person with real contact info available, so if the person is still angry, you’ve at least specified a place to vent other than online.

#4: Speak Like a Human

The only thing worse than ignoring upset customers is to respond with a canned corporate response. If you thought they were mad before, wait until you see how they react to an excerpt of your policy terms and fine print.

Show empathy, communicate in a friendly tone and use your real name. And if the forum supports it, it helps to include your actual photo.

It’s easy to yell and scream at an anonymous company. But when someone shows up and says, “Hi, this is Emily and I’m so sorry for the trouble…” it changes everything.

The critic now realizes he wasn’t yelling at a giant, faceless company. He was yelling at Emily. Quickly, the anger fades—and you’ll often get an apology.

Check out how Zappos replies to this fan. It’s human; it’s friendly. And even though they couldn’t immediately fix the problem, you can bet this fan will be back.

zappos friendly response

Check out Zappos’ Facebook page for a real-time guide on how to respond in a personable, friendly tone.

#5: Offer a Real Apology or Don’t Apologize

A strong, direct apology will always earn more respect than a flimsy, “kinda-sorta” apology.

Consider the difference between an apology like “We’re sorry you feel that way” to “Absolutely, positively unacceptable”—which was the headline to FedEx’s blog post after a delivery driver was caught throwing a package over a customer’s fence. The post included this straightforward video from Matthew Thornton, a senior vice president at the company:

And it doesn’t get much better or more direct than Jeff Bezos’ apology for how they handled pulling copies of 1984 and other novels off Kindles:

amazon positive response

This simple, straightforward apology from Jeff Bezos drew more than 750 overwhelmingly positive responses.

#6: Offer to Make it Right

Apologizing is part of turning around negative word of mouth, but to actually fix a problem is how you really win over critics.

We all make mistakes. It’s how we fix them that people remember.

At burrito chain California Tortilla, making it up to customers is part of every response they send when someone is upset. It’s this simple:

response to upset customer

California Tortilla replies to every upset customer with a simple, straightforward offer to make it up.

#7: Never Get into a Fight

Any time you win an argument online, you’re losing. All anyone really remembers is that you’re combative.

This doesn’t mean you can’t respond, explain your side of the story and start a conversation. You just need to be in the right mindset:

  • Don’t get emotional.
  • Remember, it’s a real person. Just as they see you as a faceless company, it’s easy to see them as just another complainer.
  • The critic is actually doing you a favor. They’re helping you learn to be a better company. For every person who actually speaks up, many more walk away quietly, never to return.

For more on how to reply, check out this quick explanation from Jeff Diamond of Oakland’s Farmstead Cheeses and Wines:

#8: Keep the Discussion in the Open

When a negative issue comes up, a common gut reaction is to ask to move the conversation offline. But when you do this, the world can’t see all the effort you put into fixing the problem.

Nobody sees the private email where you give that sincere apology. We can’t search for that phone conversation where you politely explain why the situation happened in the first place.

But when you do it online, in public, you earn word of mouth. For the same effort and cost, thousands more people see that you actually care about customers. Plus, you save on all the people who now don’t need to call in (or write a similarly angry post) to find an answer to the same question.

Graco’s quick and transparent use of Twitter during a recall of more than 2 million strollers, for example, helped get an important message out much more quickly, showed customers how much they cared and it just might have saved some lives, too.

graco twitter response

Customers were thrilled with how Graco kept them updated and informed during a product recall.

#9: Use Fans and Third-Party Sources to Help Tell the Story

What you say about yourself isn’t as powerful as what others say about you. It’s true when people are promoting you, and it’s true when people are calling you out.

When their brand was under attack from a competitor-led PR campaign, UPS’ Debbie Curtis-Magley and her team pointed to third-party content from news articles and industry experts to help explain the full story.

And even more powerful than experts can be the voice of your fans. You never want to put them in an uncomfortable situation, but it’s OK to ask for help sometimes.

For example, a blogger might share how he’s frustrated with a particular product feature. In which case, you might turn to your Facebook or Twitter fans with this message:

“Hey guys! Chris over at [blog name] is having trouble with [feature]. Can anyone share how they’re using it?”

#10: Involve Them in the Fix

If someone’s criticizing you, it’s often just a form of tough love. They’re doing it because they care. They see potential, and they want you to do better.

So instead of seeing them as critics, start looking at them as frustrated fans that might have some worthwhile ideas.

On one hand, Dell’s IdeaStorm is just a big list of things people think they’re doing wrong. But it’s actually a release valve—a proactive community that gives people with ideas, suggestions and complaints a place to share and vote on their favorites.

dell status update

Every idea on Dell’s IdeaStorm can be voted up or down, and Dell keeps everyone updated on progress.

A platform like IdeaStorm isn’t right for everyone, but giving your biggest critics a way to get involved is. Try inviting yours to customer advisory boards, beta tests of new products and brainstorming sessions.

See! Negative word of mouth doesn’t have to be so bad after all.

How do you handle critics? How are you making the most of negative word of mouth? Leave your questions and comments in the box below.

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About the Author, Andy Sernovitz

Andy Sernovitz teaches word of mouth marketing. He is the author of Word of Mouth Marketing: How Smart Companies Get People Talking and CEO of WordofMouth.org and SocialMedia.org. Other posts by »




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  • Scott Bush

    All terrific points. Every social community manager should read this. It’s all about being open, honest, apologetic (when needed) and offer solutions. It’s amazing by doing just those four simple things how quickly people respond in a positive light, even when it’s a bad situation. In the end, people just want solutions and to know you care. Great read!

  • steveholtconsulting

    This should be standard education for anyone involved in social media on behalf of an organization.  I have been preaching this for years and you managed to frame up the entire topic with 10 wonderful points. Thanks for doing this.

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  • One_Finger_short_of_a_Hand

    Excellent article, but I will offer another situation from my industry. Horticulture. Garden centres often have a problem with customers buying plants which subsequently die. Often this is the fault of the customer, from a lack of knowledge and not asking for or getting good advice. However, many now offer plant guarantees, as this ensures the customer returns with their complaint, can be given good advice and offered a replacement or alternative. Like the cheese guy, those complaining customers then become good ambassadors for you. Perhaps on this side of the pond, the problem is more that people prefer to complain to their friends, rather than take it up with the business.

    Very few sites offer a reasonably high profile placement for “have a moan” tab or icon. Perhaps engaging with the customer before he gets to your social platforms or anywhere else might be a better pro-active step… that is if you do get a lot of complaints.

    If this post has annoyed you, or you have a complaint about its content,  please reply below… and if you like it, may I thank you in advance.

  • Abijah

    This is the second article I’ve read on a social site encouraging companies to engage customers online and although there are some very good pointers here history and experience continually tell me this not the best way to engage users. 

    Why? Well first off engaging a frustrated customer online can go wrong and when it does it is a massive atomic explosion against your company. Look at what happened with Path, AirBNB, and more recently the tongue lashing Robert Scoble is giving Glassmap as I type this article https://plus.google.com/u/0/111091089527727420853/posts/Tr8SuVvEYt6 . The issue is it only takes one bad experience to tattoo the internet with a permanent record on how you mishandled things. Do a google search on any of the companies I’ve listed above and judge for yourself.

    Second unless you’re going to engage all customer issues through these channels you are going to come off as providing favortism to a specialize group. My guess is if I was the one posting my frustrations with Glassmap the CEO would not have jumped on my Google+ page to respond, but the same reason why he did with Robert is the same reason why he should have handled it offline, eyeballs.  As an organization you are completely aware of the amount of traction your high profile customers get and you will be compelled to reach their followers but as in this case after you respond you will now have all those same followers ready to rebut, and rebut they will.  The best way to respond is how @pretti_pretti:disqus handled things in the article above. She apologized,offered a proper channel for support and offered to resolve the situation offline. 

    Now if you cherry picked which customers you want to handle online and which ones you don’t how is that going to make the customers that you decided not to assist react?  That’s right more upset, more postings, more negative marketing against your organization.

    I have so many more reasons on why you shouldn’t do this that I’m going to write up a full article and provide a link hopefully later today. 

  • predsicker

    What a great article! Thanks for sharing this Andy, and I especially love the videos!

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  • AngieVanDenzen

    Nice article, with some great examples of verbiage. Working B2C on a daily basis, I couldn’t agree more that a quick response acknowledging the customer goes a long way, even if sometimes the complaint is of the nature that can’t be easily resolved. It’s the fact that someone cares that makes a difference.

    Angie
    Social Media Manager at  Circus Strategic Communications

  • http://www.digett.com/ Amy

    #8 is, I think, the toughest to agree with. I see both sides of the argument: you want people to see that you’re actively trying to solve the customer’s problem, but at the same time if it’s not going well, you don’t want their angry/profanity-laced complaints all over Twitter and Facebook.

    Also, if the customer walks away from the interaction still upset, they’ve got all kinds of ammo against you that they can post on their blog (screenshots of emails and social media posts, for example).

    I think if you handle situations like this well, having the conversation online is okay — there’s some record of the interaction, and other people can see that you’re trying to help. But some people are angry just because they want to be, and will continue spewing vitriol as long and as often as they can. In those cases, it’s best to move the interaction offline so that your online activity isn’t totally taken up by it, and positive interaction can continue to occur uninterrupted.

  • http://www.sigmabizlearning.com/ Jamie Gorman

    Boy, I get this question a lot!  Especially from people who are still on the fence with Social Media!  You addressed it wonderfully.  Thanks.
    Jamie

  • http://www.brittanybotti.com/ Brittany Botti

    Good list, but I think you’re a little off on #2. Just because a negative comment is on a small or obscure site/forum does not mean that customer doesn’t matter, does not mean that customer doesn’t have a large following and community, and does not mean that comment will not surface some time later on. 

    Do what you need to do to scale your efforts, but be mindful of how powerful one small voice can be when it comes to social media. 

  • Jon Pushkin

    Great article Andy. All good points. Thanks for putting it all together. 

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  • http://twitter.com/LinwrightDesign Kandice Linwright

    Absolutely perfectly timed blog! I agree that this should be required reading for any business owner getting into social media. Excellent!

    I worked with a pain management clinic for many years and we often came across this issue from ‘patients’ who were refused prescription drugs. This could be the toughest industry to keep patients happy, but every single FB issue was resolved using the tips above. Not only resolved but turned into a positive for the client.

  • Rebecca

    You’ve presented 10 very good ideas here. I’m always amazed that companies don’t already practice them!

    As the author of the seminal bestselling book on the topic, “Calming Upset Customers,” I can tell you I’ve advised many companies in 3 decades on this. Those who heed the advice from my book, speeches and seminars make amazing progress in customer retention. Those that don’t — well many of them aren’t around anymore!

    Thanks for addressing such a key topic to business success.

    Rebecca Morgan 
    Author, Calming Upset Customers 
    http://www.RebeccaMorgan.com 

  • http://twitter.com/CenterFirst CenterFirst

    Really well done. Love the very first point you made about being present. We work with a lot of call centers where phone continues to be very important. Taking the steps you suggest is a pathway to winning multi-channel customer service. Thanks for your work. 

  • http://www.wordofmouth.org/ Andy Sernovitz

    Hey Steve, thanks so much for the kind words. Glad to hear you’re helping companies make it happen!

  • Sandy

    Good advice!  Thanks for the input.

  • http://www.wordofmouth.org/ Andy Sernovitz

    Hey there, thanks for sharing your example. Your idea of making it easier for customers to give feedback is a good solution. Another key idea is to be proactive: How could a garden center improve up-front education and training to minimize the rookie mistakes?

  • http://www.wordofmouth.org/ Andy Sernovitz

    Thank you! Glad you liked them.

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  • http://www.wordofmouth.org/ Andy Sernovitz

    Hi Scott, thanks! And you’re right, these tips work great for social community managers who often find themselves in customer service and support situations. Simply showing that you’re listening and that you’re willing to help can do big things.

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  • http://www.wordofmouth.org/ Andy Sernovitz

    Thanks Jamie. I always like to respond to that question by pointing out that the conversation is already happening — with or without you. Participating doesn’t increase your odds of negative word of mouth, it gives you a platform to turn it around.

  • http://www.cybergnarus.com/ Carol

    These are really valuable tips. Some of my customers
    don’t want to participate with social media and blogging because they are
    afraid of the negative comments, and they don’t understand that this could
    happen whether they are actively participating or not. This post will give them
    (and others) a nice repertoire of activities they can employ if (or when!) it
    happens to them.

  • http://www.wordofmouth.org/ Andy Sernovitz

    Hi Amy, thanks for sharing. Keeping the conversation in the open can be tricky, and it goes against our natural instincts of how to handle negative word of mouth. But it’s a huge opportunity. It’s the chance to develop a permanent, publicly available record that shows your listening and working to fix problems.

    And you’re right — some people are just angry. And if that’s the case, your other customers can recognize that (see #2).

  • CtotheA

    Great article! I have a question about applying these rules to a different scenario. I manage social media for a graphic design firm in a very opinionated, creative, competitive town. If we design a logo, for example, and people start positing negative reviews, is it worth interacting or engaging?

  • John Wayne Zimmerman

    Thanks Andy – This was very timely as I just finished a webinar on this topic.
    As far as sites to monitor, here are some from the consumer standpoint: Yelp
    TripAdvisor
    InsiderPages
    SuperPages
    CitySearch
    Yahoo!
    Google Places
    Yellowbot
    JudysBook
    Angie’s List
    Does anyone know of some from the B2B standpoint?Or do you think they are one in the same?Would love to know anyone’s thoughts on this… 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1427671041 Kari Fajen Kimmis

    This is an excellent article and one that I can share with facility and staff in my company.  They are quick to want to delete a negative post or hide it quickly. This article helps me give proof to the importance of handling negative comments and that they can become a way to gain new fans and generate respect.  Love the statement, “Negative word of mouth is an opportunity.”  Thanks again for the article.

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  • http://www.walshonemarketing.com/ Walshonemarketing

    Good advice.  My client just had a similar situation.  We handled it pretty much as you mapped out but you did have some additional good suggestions.

  • Catherine Weber

    Great, usable ideas here. Thanks for the terrific post. I know a few clients I will share this with!
    Catherine Weber
    Weber Media Partners
    impressionsthroughmedia.com

  • One_Finger_short_of_a_Hand

    From a B2B point of view, google alerts should help, but business customers will know which “specific” places on the web to vent their frustrations, and hence monitor. Confrontations can be very damaging. I recently saw a big company’s CEO make a complete fool of himself, and thereby his business, on a landscaping forum. He would have done well to read this blog!!! (he suggested the complainent was lying about copyright theft… and like any good news reporter the complainent kept saying, well if that is the case then why does this document exist… it was hilarious). He did not follow #3… in fact he was breaking the law (UK and EU) of not making it easy to contact him…. hence complainent posted on the forum.

  • http://www.sigmabizlearning.com/ Jamie Gorman

    Great point!  Love it.

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  • http://www.wordofmouth.org/ Andy Sernovitz

    Hi Brittany — yes, absolutely, all customers are important. But there are times when you’ll come across someone you suspect is just looking to start a fight. In these instances, size matters. If your response will only bring attention to and legitimize an otherwise unimportant issue, it can be best just to move on.

    Point #2 less about scale and more about picking your battles.

    Thanks for sharing!

  • http://www.wordofmouth.org/ Andy Sernovitz

    Great list John, thanks for sharing!

  • http://www.wordofmouth.org/ Andy Sernovitz

    That’s great Kari, glad to hear it’s helpful. Good luck!

  • http://www.wordofmouth.org/ Andy Sernovitz

    Thanks Jon!

  • http://www.wordofmouth.org/ Andy Sernovitz

    Hi Carol, thanks! See my reply to Jamie above — great minds!

  • http://www.wordofmouth.org/ Andy Sernovitz

    I think whether you’re a dry cleaner, a designer, or a multi-national corporation — there’s a lot to learn from negative feedback.

    In your situation, on some level, it’s subjective. Everyone has an opinion on a logo — but not all opinions are equal.

    That said, if the community is making insightful comments, could you apply those ideas to future projects? Could you connect with smart people who might recommend you to new clients? Could you find someone worth hiring?

    Just because they don’t like your logo doesn’t mean they won’t like you.

  • http://www.wordofmouth.org/ Andy Sernovitz

    You’re right Kandice — every industry will have their own unique challenges when it comes to negative word of mouth (products vs. services, regulation, etc.) — but the fundamentals of dealing with it are the same. Thanks for sharing!

  • http://www.wordofmouth.org/ Andy Sernovitz

    You bet, thanks Sandy!

  • http://www.facebook.com/Rosyieee Rosie Baillie

    Great post, oddly a lot of this is different to what I’ve been taught, this makes so much more sense to me though. I was taught to delete negative comments, which I questioned at the time, not something I’d ever consider doing. (Unless it was seriously abusive or offensive) 

    I’m not sure if I’d ignore a complaint just because it was on a small forum, a complaint is a complaint at the end of the day. I think dealing with a complaint on a small forum would show you really care what people are saying, no matter how many or how few readers the complaint may get. 

  • http://twitter.com/NadiaKPotter Nadia Potter

    Excellent Article! All your points were well thought out and made perfect sense. I find the more human you allow your business to be, the more your customers will appreciate you.  I also liked how you included points for both large and small businesses!

    Thanks for sharing! 

  • http://twitter.com/chasl Charles Lauller

    Great post Andy.  I think what big and small brands alike sometimes forget is how much grace consumers and the community at large will give you when you simply say “we admit we failed, we intend to learn from this, and we’re committed to doing a better job in the future”.  

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  • http://www.jasondyk.com/ Jason Dykstra

    Great post Andy, I wonder how much conflict management training community managers have.  Definitely something worthwhile for companies to look into don’t you think? 

  • http://www.i95dev.com/ecommerce-magento Henry Louis

    Well suggested tips from Andy. I have already predicted some of the above tips. Nice post.

  • Miroslav Tomka

    Good post, Andy.I can add a personal story with Patagonia. As a registered customer, I recently received their email for the upcoming collection, in which I could see  an open list of all recipients. Obviously, someone cocked it up, big time, but as Andy rightly says, everybody makes a mistake sometimes.  After notifying them, they promptly replied to all with an apology, adding a 10% discount on top. Simple, effective. Im sure an experience like this might even increase one`s affection to a brand.         

  • http://www.wouterkleinsman.nl/ Wouter Kleinsman

    Great post Andy. I really like the way you have examples of company’s who know how to be successful at social media customer service. Sometimes I’m just hoping for some negative feedback so I can turn it into positive feedback. It shows you care about you’re customers. 

  • http://twitter.com/NiallKennedy NiallKennedy

    Thanks for your post Andy. I agree with all the points that you raise. 

    Here’s a slightly different situation that I would like your thoughts on. A client recently experienced a disgruntled customer but the issue was rectified offline. The customer then posted their problem on the client’s Facebook page and the client replied with a further apology, asking if there was still a problem after the offline resolution. No reply.

    However, since then the problem customer has continued to post negatively on the Facebook page on a daily basis without explaining what steps we could take to resolve a problem we thought was resolved, despite our requests for clarification. I don’t want to continue this pointless communication.

    The customer has been proved to be a known crackpot to other local businesses.

    What do I do? 

    Niall

  • http://www.hm-marketing.com/ Creative Marketing Comms.

    Fantastic article. I will reference it at the end of a very dumbed down version of this topic that I wrote on our site recently. It will also, make an excellent reference resource point when we get challenged by clients who are concerned about negative sentiment on social networks. Thankyou very much.

  • http://twitter.com/fairynuff27 Caroline Short

    Great article – I’ll be directing our international sales reps to read this via our internal blog. Many are in the process of setting up a regional facebook page or twitter feed and uncertain how to respond to customer queries and complaints. Thanks for an informative and comprehensive overview! Caroline @MacmillanELT:twitter

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  • rosemarydesigns

    Good general tips. 

    Recently I was consulted by an association with a libelous post  (yes, it turns out there is litigation going on) about one of their members, on the association’s Facebook page. 

    It was complicated because the association helps consumers find business members in their area and many consumers sign on as individual members themselves, in support of this social change entrepreneurial movement. So the complaining parting making the libelous comment could be considered a customer. 

    In the end it was determined that the situation was way beyond customer service, due to litigation in process. Fortunately the legal council is very savvy with social media, particularly with this consumer base, and recommended deleting the post immediately to avoid the association taking on the liability of publishing libel. 

    The association has had no social media backlash, which is great, because this particular set of consumers is very vocal on social media. Some are even openly coached in black hat methods by pundits who oppose the social change this association represents.

    I know this sounds like a scary movie. It’s not. The situation is real and we work with it every day with good cheer. It’s just good to understand the territory you’re in _before_ you get in a situation where you need to respond to a negative comment.

  • rosemarydesigns

    note: the litigation is between the consumer and the business member.

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  • Ixi Studio

    This is great advice thanks 

  • http://twitter.com/LauGue Laura Guerrero

    Absolutely loved this post!! This has always been one of my biggest questions and concerns since I started working on Social Media. Thank you for such a practical and easy to digest post on this extremely important aspect of Community Management and Social Media :)  

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  • http://twitter.com/reema1000 Reema

    Hello! I am studying Social Media Theory & Practice with @dr4ward at @NewhouseSU, and just started subscribing to this blog. (I’ve been reading it for a while though) I loved all the tips here – especially keeping the involved. Nothing is worse than being an upset and uniformed consumer. This article really hit every aspect! Thanks for sharing! #NewhouseSM6, 

  • Rob Postuma

     Andy – I just read this and immediately passed it around to everybody in my company – you completely summed it all up in easy to digest chunks.
    From my experience, it basically boils down to this, realize that you’re in the service industry and customers matter. If you make mistakes, acknowledge them and apologize and try to make things better. Talk with customers, treat them like human beings and not just anonymous people who hand over money. It’s all about the customer.

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  • http://www.ricardobueno.com/ Ricardo Bueno

    Being on the brand side, I’ve learned that the faster you respond, the better. You won’t always be able to resolve the person’s issue, and/or the person might just be blatantly rude – in other words, they don’t want to be heard or talked to, they just want to vent. Those situations you can’t necessarily control. Still, it’s best when you’re able to respond to try and correct a situation (if you can). 

    Don’t get into a debate. Get into a friendly discussion that allows both parties to express their views. In most cases, customers really just want to feel like they’re being heard. 

  • JessicaOverend

    I think
    this is a great way to understand how to not let social media and other online
    outlets harm your business, but to use the negative publicity to create a better
    brand perception.  Thank you very much
    for your tips for professionals who are looking to create a better relationship
    with customers.  As I was reading this post,
    I kept thinking about how your tips are very beneficial to those who are not
    completely familiar with social media. Without generalizing too much, those are
    typically the older bosses within a company. When working with people who are
    not familiar with social media in a small group setting, how would you work someone
    who is not aware of social media and how customers can positively interact with
    a company even when it starts with a negative comment?

                      This makes me think of my
    corporate communications course in my graduate program where we discussed the
    ethics in group settings. While I believe it is helpful to have group
    conversations within a corporation in regards to social media, I can also see
    how it can be detrimental and your tips are very valuable.  In the Handbook
    of Communication Ethics, Gastil and Sprain state that “though
    group identification has its benefits”, there are examples that “underscore the
    danger in these deindividuation, prototyping and stereotyping processes” (p.
    160). I
    believe this type of problem in a group situation is common and your tips are a
    great way to get everyone on the same page. Thank you very much for your post!

    Sincerely,

    Jessica
    Overend

    Communication
    Graduate Student

    Drury
    University

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  • Clifford VanMeter

    Great article, but I do disagree with #2 above. I believe ALL negative comments deserve a response. It’s too easy for even a small blog to suddenly have their comments blow up. For example, the right (or wrong depending on your point of view) person posts it on Facebook or re-Tweets it and suddenly it goes from one guy grumbling, to a million sympathizers overnight. Viral happens too quickly and too often to risk being seen as uninterested. Also, by taking the right kind of action every time, you build up a searchable index of responses. Online credibility that achieves a critical mass. We use Google Alerts as well as some other online tools to actively seek out and disarm negative comments every time.

    _____________________________________

    Clifford VanMeter
    Marketing Coordinator

    Express Auto
    http://www.expressauto.com

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  • http://www.Bestatselling.com/ Maura Schreier-Fleming

    These are great strategies to address unhappy customers. You also highlight the need to train people on their selling skills so they don’t create unhappy customers.  It’s often the little things– like when a customer feels heard– that can avoid creating an unhappy customer in the first place. Listening is the most important selling skill and it’s treated like it’s already there, but truly must be developed.  

    Maura Schreier-Fleming
    Best@Selling:disqus Author of Real-World Selling for Out-of-This World results
    http://www.Bestatselling.com

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  • http://www.pidginwerkt.nl/ Arno van den Heuvel

    Although I love this article, I’m very curious for your ‘promised’ article! I strongly agree that cherry picking complaint management is not just dangerous but also unrighteous. I would love to hear your solution on the issue.

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  • Deidre

    After spending more than 25 years in the retail industry with our customers, so much has changed. However the rules of engagement for successful customer resolutions -the basics- have remained the same:
    Address concerns with respect, listen carefully and be empathetic- keeping in mind win-win do the right thing in watever forum you choose for resolution.

    Approach every interaction with “I’m here to help-how can I make it right?’

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  • Madalena

    Very good article!! Thank you so much for this very usefull tips!

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  • http://www.i95dev.com/ecommerce-magento Henry Louis

    Offer this service only when you are interested in resolving the Queries. But social media has opened a new channel to offer customer service to its client. Many big brands are using this medium – one I’ve known is Dell.

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  • Cindy Siow

    Yes I agree with Point #8. Never get into a fight.

    http://myfirstmagicbutton.com/blog/?p=105

  • Cindy Siow

    Yes I agree with #8 : Never get into a fight.
    I have documented my success in turning around this situation at 
    http://myfirstmagicbutton.com/blog/?p=105

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  • http://www.facebook.com/gwen.himes Gwen Himes

    Awesome advice! I’d just like to add something to the point about deciding whether a negative comment is worth a reply or not. It’s true that you should just ignore the really outrageous and irrational comments by disgruntled customers, but there are just some times when a customer will not stop pestering you until you give them your time of day. In this case, you can fight back with humor; your more rational customers will get some amusement from it, and your hell’s customer might get his just desserts.  There are also some good advice on dealing with customers from hell at http://venturesmallbusiness.blogspot.com/2012/10/how-to-deal-with-customers-from-hell.html

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  • hananguyen

    Thks a lot a valuable advice that I will definitely bare in mind in.

  • Brandon Roberts

    good i should do this

  • http://www.benchmarkemail.com Dorothy Le

    These days, customers go straight to social media to ask companies a question or to
    air out their complaints. So it is of the utmost importance that you check your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+, Youtube, LinkedIn, etc.,…probably every second of everyday just so you can be on top of things and nab each complaint right away before it escalades into a public meltdown.

    But just to de-stress your work day, and so you don’t have 50 tabs open on your
    browser for all your social media, Zendesk is an online software that pulls
    each urgent question from your social media platforms onto one simple dashboard.

    The software highlights conversations that are urgent and require attention, and
    brings them onto your main Zendesk page. Each question is then marked as a ticket as a number so that you as the support rep can scroll through the tickets and tackle one at a time. Or you can even tackle more than one ticket at a time too, if you so desire.

    That’s why Zendesk also allows you to collaborate with other department members to
    solve the issue at hand.

    If you want to add in the benefits of email marketing, you can use the Benchmark-Zendesk plugin to segment all your Zendesk into one contact list. Email marketing is a great way to maintain relationships with your customers, and when combined with superior customer service, there will be less complaints and more happy customers.

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