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Susan DeMatei
November 9, 2012 | Social Media Marketing | Susan DeMatei


Social media might be the most helpful customer service tool to come along since the telephone.

Social Media is Not the Place Any Company Wants to Run into Angry Customers


But nobody wants to run into a ticked off customer on Social Media.  One of the most often questions I get when speaking to wineries is how to handle the bad review on yelp, or the upset post on Facebook or Twitter.

While most companies view Twitter and Facebook as a great tool to monitor what customers are saying about them, I’ve written that they are missing opportunities to enhance the customer service and experience by posting value added content.

That said this short article is about how to respond to the irate customer who decides to air his or her grievance using social media channels instead of reaching out to the company directly. Or worse, maybe they tried to reach the company via traditional channels (phone, email, etc.) and didn’t get the response they were looking for.

When a customer complains on social media channels like Twitter or Facebook, the customer’s usual  [hate-on-yelp] goal is to get the company to respond.

The company’s goal is to mitigate or eliminate any negative impressions, and show the customer, and the rest of the world, that they are there to support and help the customer through the problem. Managed properly, the result will be showing the customer, their friends, and potentially the rest of the world that the company stands behind their products and offers amazing customer service.

Here are five simple steps to managing a customer complaint on Twitter, Facebook and other similar social media channels:

  1. First and foremost, respond quickly. According to new research from Oracle customers expect quick responses on both social networks: over half (51%) of Facebook users and over 80% of Twitter users expected to receive a response to their question or concern within 24 hours or less. And more than half of Twitter users expect a personal response within just two hours of tweeting their question or complaint.  The report clearly indicates that “consumers anticipate that customer support is listening and participating in social media.”
  2. Think of this as a conversation. The key to great customer service is the speed and quality of your response.  Twitter is a conversational platform, and people like to talk to people, so take time to chat as well. Don’t use a canned answer. Don’t take an arrogant tone and don’t tell them they screwed up.  Customize your response if possible.
  3. If they are obviously angry, or if the issue is sensitive, don’t become defensive. The risk is that you start an argument in front of everyone. Instead, take control of the comment by first apologizing for any issue they are having, and letting them know that you are there to help.
  4. Ask them to direct message you their contact information so you can get the information needed to call them on the phone or start a longer email conversation – in private.
  5. Once the problem is resolved, go back to them on the original social media channel they used to reach to you and thank them for bringing the problem to your attention and the opportunity to fix it. Show there was a positive resolution.

The bottom line is this:

If you don’t deliver, at a minimum, an acceptable level of service, the whole world can find out about it. Twitter is an opportunity to build an image and identity for the brand, so talking with customers about why you like the brand so much, what cool things the company has done, or retweeting a success story gives people many reasons to follow what you say.

Embrace social media.

Your customers do.



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