It’s inevitable in business. Now and again you’re going to do something that annoys a customer and they’ll want to complain about it.
Dissatisfied customers used to pick up the phone or pen you a stern letter to air their grievances. But now it’s easier, and perhaps more satisfying for them, to jump onto social media and give your business a good ear bashing in full public view.
It’s like your dirty laundry hanging out for the world to see.
Fret not! You can take steps to improve the situation. Here are some suggestions for dealing with those unmentionables.
DO keep your virtual ears open for signs of discontent
Monitoring what’s being said about your business online will give you valuable insights in general, but it will also alert you to customer issues that need addressing.
DO keep any negativity in perspective
People are more likely to shout out when they’re unhappy than when everything is just fine. See a negative review or comment as an opportunity to improve and impress.
DO respond quickly
As soon as you’re aware of a problem, jump in and respond. The longer you leave it, the more disillusioned the individual may grow as they feel you’re not listening to them.
DO take action
Unhappy customers don’t just want an apology – they want to know how you’re going to fix their problem. If you’ve mucked up, apologise sincerely and explain what you are going to do to rectify the situation. Show them you’re human and show you care.
If the complaint is a misconception, reply with polite but factual information.
DO take the conversation offline if you need to
Once you have publicly acknowledged the feedback, take angry or aggressive customers away from the public forum and resolve their issues by phone or email directly. You can return to the public forum once the issue is resolved to post a friendly follow up.
DON’T ignore or delete negative comments
You’ll infuriate an unhappy customer if you ignore or delete their feedback and this can lead to further aggravated remarks. Reply to negative comments openly and respectfully and only delete comments if they are actually offensive or illegal.
DON’T get emotional
Whilst it’s natural to feel defensive when your business is under attack, put your emotions aside whilst you deal with the complaint. Try to understand that your customer is just disappointed because you didn’t meet their expectations in some way.
DON’T keep your strategy for handling complaints to yourself
Make sure any of your staff that may be exposed to negative comments about your business understands how you want them handled.
Overall, focus on giving your customers a great experience. Lessen the likelihood of negative feedback by always putting the customer first. After all, prevention is better than cure!