Social Media – How to deal with complaints and negative feedback.

5 Jun

I love social media. My high school teachers would get mad at me for spending copious amounts of time checking my emails, reading webpages, building useless geocities/gurlpages websites (early 2000’s people) and generally racking up more internet usage than the schools system network administrator. Hey, thanks school! I actually taught myself things during those periods of boring classes, even though by the end of my time at school it was difficult to search many key words because my diligent searching of certain topics got them banned. Good luck writing an essay on Hanson everyone! haha.

Anyway i’m getting off topic. So when I moved to America in 2006 for university everyone was talking about Facebook. My roommates forced me to sign up to it in my first night with them because apparently I couldn’t function at an American college without a Facebook page. At this stage nobody in Australia had a Facebook page because it was restricted to college students only. What a different world it was.

So blast forward to now, 2011. What the heck has happened? Every man and his grandma and local chicken shop is doing this social media thing. Social Media is a critical part of a brands identity.

We are all so well connected, and in some cases actually entertained by social media campaigns. That is a whole other topic and today I’ll just focus on the scary part of social media. COMPLAINTS. Very public airing of the horrors of customers annoyance.

The key to responding professionally to complaints made on social media is to:

  • Turn negatives into positives to build loyalty and customer satisfaction
  • Always be transparent and reply with an empathetic, caring comment.
  • Never ignore a comment.
  • Never give an angry tone in your response.
  • Always show that you are working to improve the situation.
  • Ask the person complaining to contact you directly through email or phone so that you can sort out deep issues privately and address them personally.

So what do you do when a customer visits your companies Facebook page and leaves a comment with such venom that every single person visiting your page can see and may put them off your company. Panic? Yes good answer but don’t. Social media encourages users to participate in conversation whether it be good or bad. How do we deal with a bad comment?

Well it depends on the comment. Feedback can either be negative feedback or constructive criticism. It is important to reply to the complaint in a positive manner and thank the customer for their ideas if it is constructive criticism. If it is negative feedback eg: faulty product, bad service, reply to the customer and thank them for bringing this issue to your attention and that you will look into how to deal with it. Try and understand the customer and make them feel listened to and understood.

One of the most important parts of social media is to be transparent. Social media is all about personal service and a face for the company.

It is important to reply to comments as quickly as possible. The worst thing to do is leave it a few days as others will then see this comment and word travels in social media. Being positive and constructive in response to a negative comment can work to create positive experiences for the people who complained. A well handled complaint can result in a person feeling a deep connection and respect for a company. Even those who have not complained but have seen the conversation being resolved will feel respect for the company.

I recently saw a good case of this on a Facebook page where a customer commented that they received their order with some wrong products in it. The customer service person responded and apologised for the inconvenience, asked them to contact their personal email account to sort out the finer details out of the watchful eye of the social media space and then commented “can anyone think of any recipes for Kathy to make use of this excess butter and milk”. PERFECT! I saw another one on a different site complaining about delivery timing issues. The service person responded and asked them to contact their personal email to discuss the problem in more detail, and to probably offer them some form of compensation.

Most customers just want to know that they have been heard in most cases of constructive criticism. Those that give constructive criticism obviously care enough about your brand to have taken the time to contact you so again, be positive and thankful.

Ignoring and deleting comments is a no no generally. Social media is like a giant conversation. If the person called you on the phone or was standing in front of you making a complaint you would not ignore them, you would respond to them. Social media is no different. Deleting a comment should only occur in extreme cases such as bullying, rude language and so on.

So remember to embrace complaints even though they probably hurt your feelings. You can do something to turn this bad experience around and turn it into a good experience that will be appreciated!

Just for a funny example of how social media can turn on you. (sourced from

Note to self: Send direct emails to the company if I ever have a complaint so as not to air dirty laundry through social media.


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