5 Steps to Handling Any Complaint on Social Media

By: Sofie De Beule

January 7, 2015

Pleasing every customer is just a fad. The best businesses are the ones that own up to their mistakes and prove they can fix them. Being able to swiftly handle a complaint will only make the relationship with your customers stronger.

Here is our 5-step approach to handling any complaint on social media:

1. Be Prepared

Before you’re able to respond swiftly, you need to be prepared. Have a plan ready for complaints that will empower your team to take proper action. Understand that even the best brands in the world deal with these organizational issues from time to time.

Inspire your social media team with ideas about how to respond appropriately without losing sight of your brand voice. You can work with very practical response flow sheets, basic rules, and work schemes that summarize how you handle each individual complaint.

2. Listen to the Complaint

When customers air their frustrations, it’s often quite overwhelming to respond appropriately. Don’t jump in right away, and listen to their complaints first.

Hear your customers out, listen, and show that you care. No matter how big or small their complaint is, they need to be listened to. But more importantly, you need to understand their frustration. See this as an opportunity and remember that with every new complaint that comes in, you can find out more about the problems that will dissatisfy your customers in the future.

Engagor Tip: If you’re in an early stage of social customer service, take some time to monitor the inflow and categorize incoming messages first before you start replying. This period will give you the time to identify the most common complaints and move on to the next step. Don’t simply monitor ‘@mentions’, but monitor people mentioning your brand name/products/etc. as a whole.

3. Determine the Type of Complaint

The first step to dealing with complaints is determining the type of feedback so that you can respond appropriately. Negative feedback comes in many different layers.

Here are 4 types of complaints your company deals with:

  • Problems: a customer experienced an issue with your product or service.
  • Constructive criticism: a customer believes your business can improve and communicates this respectfully. This type of feedback does point out the flaws of a business but is incredibly useful.
  • A merited attack: your company did something wrong, and someone is angry about it.
  • Spam: people have no valid reason for being angry and simply assault your business.

4. Determine the Type of Response

Especially in a social customer service environment, where “the customer is always right,” always apologize first to your customers and acknowledge the problem. Keep a cool head, which is incredibly crucial in a hectic and stressful environment, to ensure a professional response. Simply say, “I’m sorry for your bad experience,” followed by that person’s first name, and stay positive. Build loyalty and trust by responding to complaints with a positive message. In the case of trolling, you don’t need to reply, and therefore, simply deleting the comment on your social profiles will do.

Engagor Tip: When monitoring your social media presence, you want to keep track of everything related to your brand, but you don’t always have to take action. Log and save all the mentions, like spam, that don’t need an action in separate folders. Always maintain a comprehensive overview of your brand, which is especially useful when reporting about your brand.

5. Thank the Customer

It might seem odd to thank your customers but kindness always works. Thank your customers sincerely for bringing the situation to your attention and making the effort of reaching out to you. Every new complaint is a chance to learn more about your business, fix crucial problems, and make someone happy. Don’t forget to give them an incentive to return: provide them with a discount or loyalty reward, pitch them for new product ideas, etc. Taking genuine action to keep the customer happy should be the foundation of your business.

The next time you are faced with a complaint from a customer, apply this 5-step approach to swiftly handle complaints. This method is incredibly simple to apply. Make sure you don’t lose your focus: active and proactive listening is key in understanding any complaint, and ultimately, understanding your business to help it grow.