We’ve all experienced this. We’re following up on a notification on social media and get to read an angry post from a customer writing about our company. This is one of the most difficult situations to deal with for a business, and it’s hard to help someone who’s complaining, venting, or even cursing at you.
So, how do you deal with irate customers in a way that brings a solution that is satisfactory for the both of you?
By not responding
You should always respond to a negative comment. It might be tempting to leave it unanswered, as it means that you won’t give it more attention than it deserves. Also, if the person on the other side is looking to upset you, they won’t have any reaction from you to leave further comments.
However, bad reviews don’t disappear and anyone who sees your content will also see the negative comments. You might come across as a company unconcerned with its clients or their reputation, or not actively willing to try to resolve issues when they arise. Worse, leaving the comments unanswered will give them the final word.
Better avoid associating that perception with your business.
Responding carefully can put you back in control, and you have to carefully choose the tone and content of your post so it doesn’t backfire and cause more harm. It all comes down to finding the appropriate response.
So, how to go about this?
Respond in a positive manner, regardless of how negative the comment was. Staying polite and keeping your composure will give you an edge over someone who is angry.
Thank the person for sharing their feedback, acknowledge the issue they are facing and apologise for the inconvenience they are experiencing. Make sure you take responsibility for the problem, even if it is an uncommon one or an isolated case, and propose a constructive solution.
Showing sympathy and taking action towards resolving the issue will help to rebuild and strengthen the trust of your client. If there is nothing you can do, investigate and take measures so the issue does not become a recurrent one.
Public or private?
After you have responded publicly that you are sorry, you can also encourage the person to take the issue offline and carry the conversation through private messages rather than public posts. It’s always a good idea to have direct contact and discuss how to move forward, especially if the matter is sensitive.
Should you make light of it?
Should you use humour in your response? It can be a good way to lighten the situation, but you have to be very considerate and careful that it is appropriate and that the tone will be understood. In doubt, keep your answer neutral and professional.
How fast should you respond? The quicker the better. Your customers will typically expect a response within an hour of the initial post. With a fast response, you will come across as a reliable company that is ready to address issues and resolve them in a timely manner.
So what would you respond to someone who, out of nowhere, says they had a terrible experience with your brand?
“Thank you for your feedback, we are sorry you had such a bad experience. Contact us directly at this address and we’re sure we’ll be able to turn that experience around.”
Keep in mind that your reputation is shaped not only by what you put forward, but also by what customers say about your business and by what they post online. While you might not have a lot of control over it, a good way to improve your reputation is to respond to reviews. That way, you actively participate in the conversation and have a positive impact on how your brand is perceived.