Does your business know how to respond to a social media complaint? A friend informed me their company had a Facebook complaint from a prospective customer. Company executives wanted to ignore it and delete the complaint. My friend wanted my opinion. I inquired about the complaint. It seems the company had missed an in-home appointment and did not contact the prospective customer until after the appointment time. It was a valid complaint.

I suggested the most important thing to do was to create a policy or system so this doesn’t happen and thank the prospect for making them aware of the problem.

How to Respond to a Social Media Complaint 

  1. Apologize. If nothing else, you should apologize for them being upset, shouldn’t you? Don’t excuse or defend yourself. Whenever you can agree with the customer do so. Put yourself in their shoes.
  2. Thank them for their input. Explain that your organization cannot improve without feedback.
  3. Make it right with the customer; when possible offer to fix it at their convenience.
  4. Solve the problem on your end to avoid the situation in the future and share the solution with the consumer.
  5. Share it on the social network where the complaint was published. Reply with an apology, thank you, and solution.

The executives at my friend’s company decided this was the best procedure. They posted it on Facebook, and the prospective customer scheduled another appointment.

A Facebook Complaint

A company I worked with was contacted by an employee from a periodical who called after work hours to request a customer’s artwork for publication. An employee who was working late answered the phone and explained no one from the design department was available to help them with the artwork. When the caller continued to ask for assistance, the employee became flustered and confused, stating, “I can’t help you—I’m the cleaning person,” which was not the case. The employee from the magazine complained on the company’s Facebook page. What would you do?

Here’s What the Company Did

  1. They located the customer from their database and discussed the situation with design and sales.
  2. They asked department managers to talk to employees who had worked late the night of the call.
  3. Next, they talked to employees privately and let them know they were not “in trouble” but wanted to identify and change this behavior. The “cleaning person” stepped forward.
  4. They explained the phone answering procedure and the consequences of not following it to this employee.
  5. They issued a company-wide phone answering script, procedure, and policy.
  6. Then, they contacted the periodical via email and phone with an apology.
  7. They assisted with the files they needed.
  8. The company thanked the periodical for informing them of their dissatisfaction and shared their actions to avoid this in the future.
  9. Later, They provided email addresses and cell phone numbers directly to the design department.
  10. They shared their actions on Facebook in reply to the complaint.

How to Respond to a Social Media Complaint 

How to respond to a social media complaint isn’t one size fits all. Not all complaints will go over as well as these two examples. There’s a time to take it offline, and there is a time to delete complaints. Combative, aggressive, and rude complaints may need to be taken down. Any complaint, especially on social media, should be viewed as an opportunity to improve your organization, help a customer fix a concern, and show your company’s character.

Any of us needing auto repair, a dentist, or a new phone, etc., have this in common—we’re all looking for someone we can trust. An organization which presents only a pristine, mistake-free image is missing the point. Everyone makes mistakes, and everyone has complaints. A good organization fixes them. A great organization shares them when appropriate. Who do you trust? A “perfect” mistake-free organization, or one that shows its underbelly by sharing complaints, mistakes, lessons learned, and solutions. Who would you trust?

How Can I Help You?

I like to help people and organizations, but I have three criteria I consider before taking an assignment – I believe in what the organization stands for, I know I can help, and it looks like fun. If you have any questions, Contact Me. 

Does your business have a management training plan? Businesses and universities use my book, The New Manager’s Workbook, a crash course in effective management, as the basis for their leadership development program. I’m also available to conduct training.

Photo by Kev Costello on Unsplash