This is an increasing area of concern for many businesses, or occasionally, specific individuals within them. There are many advantages to the world of social media, you may feel that this is not one of them. Yet, in a strange way, this might not be true. If such a posting highlights a genuine problem which you can solve, think of all the others who didn’t give you a hard time about it. They probably would just go elsewhere the next time they needed that particular product or to use a specific service. You have the chance to save that business, and even gain new customers, if you handle the situation politely and professionally.
Keep a cool head
Your first course of action when you notice such a negative message should be to sit on your hands. It continues to amaze when you consider the number of politicians who manage to get into trouble by their replies to such postings. Too often, bad temper seems to get in the way of good sense. Therefore, school yourself, and your people, to wait and think. Instant reactions usually cause further problems, reasoned responses help deal with the matter, and can often turn it into a positive experience.
Also, accept that a complainer is not a troll, although their language might sometimes suggest otherwise! These sad individuals are a separate problem. We are also not talking about situations that could lead to legal action by your company. Here, we consider that unhappy customer who is a source of potential damage, or possible good, to your business. The first response key is to be polite. In many situations, you can apologise for their anger – which is not the same as admitting fault or liability: “I’m sorry you are frustrated when trying to use your new…” is not the same as: “I’m sorry our new xxxx didn’t work properly”.
Solve the problem
Ask for specific information, provide a means of their contacting your company to discuss it, and then work to solve the problem. Once you do, wait a while, to see if they have praised you for sorting it out. If not, simply post the solution for others to appreciate, without seeming to hark back to that particular customer. For example: “A recent post highlighted problems with xxxx. If this happens, here’s what to do…”
Surveys have regularly shown that people often think more highly of a company who professionally solves such a problem than they would have if it had never occurred in the first place. Make sure your team take such opportunities to shine.