How to Respond to Customer Complaints Online

Jan 2020

frowning baby sitting on a picnic blanketSocial media has become the ideal outlet for consumers to connect with brands. Customers don’t want to pick up the phone and wait on hold just to ask a question. This is the age of short attention spans and the necessity for immediate responses.


Customer service plays an integral role in keeping digital fans engaged and loyal. Responding to complaints is just as important as posting a photo. Negative comments can potentially make or break your brand. 


These eight tips can help.


Respond Quickly

Customers are usually just coming out of a bad situation when they are writing their complaints. Although these folks are feeling wronged, they mostly just want to be heard. The easiest way to deflate a potential fiasco is to respond immediately. Write back to the customer apologizing for the mistake and diligently work to resolve the problem. The sooner you respond, the less likely they will be to continue blasting you on other channels.


Be Proactive

Once the problem is resolved, continue to follow up with those customers. Ensure that they are not experiencing other issues and that you still care. Finding a solution is only half the battle when dealing with complaints. You’ll have to fight to keep that customer too. If they feel like just another number, they’ll find another company to call home.


Act Like a Human

Don’t be a robot. Customers don’t want to deal with yet another copy and paste response to their messages. Customer Service is all about personalization. Ask for their name and use it often. Try to understand what their needs are by asking questions.


Show Some Empathy

It’s okay to show some emotion. Customers want to feel like you genuinely care about their complaints and want to fix it for them. Even if you don’t have the answer right away, let them know you haven’t forgotten about them and are working to find a solution.


Use Auto-Respond Wisely

Auto-responders can be a great way to communicate with customers. You can instantly respond to frequently asked questions and send users happily on their way. Complaints, however, demand a human touch. If your brand chooses to incorporate auto-responders into your messaging systems, make sure there is a “talk to a human” option. 


Focus on the Right Channel

Studies show that the majority of these complaints are coming from Facebook, followed closely by Twitter and Reddit. What’s even more interesting is the demographics of those turning to social media to resolve their problems. It’s split nearly 50/50 men and women falling in the Generation X and Millenial categories. Stick to the channel your customers prefer. You’ll resolve problems more efficiently.


Move the Conversation to a Private Space

Social media business pages are public to every user on the internet. That being said, it’s more likely that an angry customer will leave a complaint in a comment instead of a direct message. Don’t freak out when this happens. Acknowledge the comment, as long as it’s not vulgar, and let them know you would like to continue the conversation privately in a message. From there, you can request a phone number or email if their complaint requires further assistance.


Stay Consistent

Consistency is key when resolving customer complaints, especially on social media. Give these customers the same time and dedication you would give traditional customers calling or walking in. After all, social media is a conversational platform, and people will share their experiences with you. 


Whichever social media channel your brand uses to connect with customers, make sure you have a plan for when those complaints come rolling in.


90% of consumers use social media to communicate with brands.

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