How to handle difficult customers on social media

Unhappy customer

Difficult customers can tarnish the reputation of an otherwise reputable business. However, you can learn to turn each situation into a positive one.

It’s important to showcase the exceptional level of customer service your business provides. Creating this on social media platforms helps to promote your brand and show the world that you care for all your customers. This will not only keep your customers happy but will boost confidence and bring further return custom.

You will always have the ‘difficult customer’ but we have 5 essential tips for converting that angry customer into a satisfied one:

  1. Learn to listen
  2. Respond with compassion and humanity
  3. Respond quickly
  4. Ensure to respond publicly
  5. Have a satisfactory outcome to the issue

1. Learn to listen

Hearing negative comments on your brand or products is never easy but, if you don’t listen, you can’t expect to improve. If you also stick your head in the sand and don’t respond to difficult comments, you will find your review pages littered with negative remarks and poor responses.

It is virtually impossible to keep abreast of all comments/feedback being put out on the internet but in order to try and speed up your responses you could use a tool to ensure you are quickly alerted to negative comments. Here are a few ideas:

GOOGLE ALERTS – a free tool which sends an alert every time your brand name is used

MENTION – this monitors any keywords or hashtags used in social media in real time. It also lets you stay up-to-date with conversations

REVIEW SITES – help to prevent negative reviews stagnating across the internet. It takes time but it is worth it to protect your brand name

FORUMS – if you are aware of any forums used by your customers, monitor them to ensure any questions or remarks are answered

A difficult customer is like snake venom and you are the antidote – the faster you respond and administer an outcome, the less time the comment has to damage your online reputation.

2. Respond with compassion and humanity

It is very easy for a business to lose the humanity in their voice and to focus more on marketing metrics than user-experience.

A ‘copy and paste’ job is a hundred worse than not responding at all. You need to show empathy and to use a friendly tone, no matter how frustrated or angry you feel with the customer. Interact in a more intimate manner showing you are not a faceless brand, in this way you will start to build a relationship of trust.

Diffuse the situation from the outset. Reassure the customer that you are listening and taking their complaint seriously, something along the lines of:

‘[name of customer], my name is Yvette. I am so sorry you have had to contact us regarding these issues but I am here to help. etc’

3. Respond quickly

The content of your reply is very important but also of great importance is the speed in which it is done.

Most customers expect a reply within a couple of days but the angrier the customer the faster they expect a reply – hours … minutes.

If you are posting content to do with your brand daily there is absolutely no excuse in ignoring or delaying a customer’s query or complaint. If you do then they have every right to feel that they are being ignored or undervalued and will only serve to increase their frustration and anger.

Responding rapidly to posts or complaints will show your customers that you appreciate and value them and will lead the way to begin calming down the situation.

The majority of companies are known for their poor response rate – you have to break that tradition and offer your customers a higher level of care than provided by your competition. A customer will appreciate the idea that, even if you can’t solve the problem straight away, you are at least aware of their concerns:

‘[name of customer], my name is Yvette. I am so sorry you have had to contact us regarding [complaint]. We are looking into this issue and I assure you I will be in touch with you as soon as we have a solution. Meanwhile, if you have any further questions, please feel free to contact me directly on [telephone number]’

That message shows the personal side of your business through the use of a first name. This shows compassion and assures the customer that a person is addressing their issue. The inclusion of the telephone number increases the human element of the message and makes the customer feel more in control of the situation.

4. Ensure to respond publicly

Instead of avoiding the public eye when it comes to negative comments – embrace them. Responding to these comments is a great opportunity to show the public how fantastic your customer service is and how you have the ability to handle a difficult situation.

If you went on to a company’s Twitter page and saw a load of negative remarks with no responses, would you instantly trust that company or go elsewhere? Conversely, if you went on to that page and the negative comments had been dealt with in a timely and appropriate manner would your reaction be the same? The public have to trust your customer care team.

5. Have a satisfactory outcome to the issue

It is not enough to simply acknowledge and apologise to your difficult customer. You must address and solve their complaint.

All businesses, great and small, make mistakes. How they deal with that mistake is what makes the public either trust them or leave them for a competitor. Turn your negative into a positive. Sometimes a simple apology is not enough – deal with the issue on a deeper level or issue a refund or credit to use in the future.

Potential customers will be turned away by seeing a multitude of unanswered negative reviews. In order to grow successfully you have to go that extra mile in keeping your customers happy.

Dealing with difficult customers is rarely easy or enjoyable. Look at the situation from their point of view – they are angry about something – it is up to you to calm that situation down and to turn the problem around in your favour.

Reply quickly. Find a solution. Show compassion and humanity. Make all your customers feel valued.

We hope these tips have been useful to you, and if you need help with your social media marketing, please get in touch.

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