If you run a business, you’re no doubt familiar with how quickly a customer’s social media complaint can spread like wildfire reaching literally thousands of people in mere minutes.
It’s a familar scenario that companies find themselves in. Who can forget the see-through pants complaints that hit athletic wear company Lululemon back in 2013? Once the media got wind of the complaints dozens of damning headlines were written within a week and Lululemon’s pocketbook suffered.
And it’s not just large corporations who experience financial losses due to negative social media comments and unfavorable online reviews. Several small businesses have shutdown their doors because of them.
“The cost of a negative review online can run the gamut from economic (it’s literally costing you customers) to morale (it sucks to work for a company with bad reviews), and everything in between,” says customer experience expert Lincoln Murphy.
Here are three tips for handling furious customers online.
Respond Privately & Don’t Delete
Some companies struggle with the idea of leaving absolutely untruthful and damaging complaints online for others to see and share. But the truth is you will find yourself in significantly hotter water if you delete those comments, because rest assured that irate customer will resurface telling everyone how you deleted their comments. A best-practice used by many businesses involves apologizing publicly and then asking the customer to private message the details of their complaint, so the issue can be looked into right away. The key is to move the conversation into a private space.
Give Them Another Outlet For Negativity
When a customer launches an assault on your social media channels it’s a sign that you failed to provide them with another outlet for their complaints. Administering a customer feedback survey immediately after a purchase is a good way to minimize the chance that they will blast you online. “If you survey your customers and they provide negative feedback, follow-up with them to ensure they know they’re being heard,” advises Murphy. “You’ll have to actually listen and take action so they don’t get more frustrated and take to the inter-webs.” You can also add a complaint section to your website while letting customers know how you prefer to be contacted, perhaps via email. Whatever method you choose, reassure customers this is the fastest channel for having their issue addressed.
Offer Them More Than They Expect
You’d be surprised by how many angry customers aren’t even asking for that much. In a monetary sense, there are all kinds of things you can do to rectify a wrong or appease a customer who’s had a negative experience that goes above and beyond their expectations. For example, if they are simply looking for a refund, also throw in a discount on their next purchase or make them a part of your preferred customer program. It doesn’t matter if their complaint has any validity or even if what they are unhappy about is really their fault. The goal is to get the customer so excited by your generosity that they are literally blown away and have nothing negative to say anymore. Ideally, you would have turned their experience from a negative one into a positive one, at which point you can ask them to share their story online.