As we all know, sometimes customers are unhappy. You can’t please everyone every time. Sometimes those unhappy customers get vocal, posting negative comments about your business online. Believe it or not, that’s not a bad thing. As long as you know how to handle it, it’s actually usually good news for you. Would you rather have unhappy customers just leave you without saying a word, or would you prefer it if they let you know why they were upset and you had the chance to fix it? When someone complains about you they are really giving you a golden opportunity: the chance to recognize something you’re doing wrong and to fix it in a way that wins back the unhappy customers and gets them telling all their friends how cool you are.
There are a lot of ways you can discover these negative posts and neutralize them. Let’s just go over a few things you’ll want to be doing.
First, pay attention. If you don’t know someone’s complaining you won’t be able to fix anything. Twitter, Facebook, Yelp, and any forums your customers regularly participate in are all places you should be monitoring for any mention of your brand. You should also set up Google Alerts so you can see results from all across the web. Time is a very important factor here. Checking Twitter once a week isn’t good enough, because if a bad Tweet is up for 5 days before you notice it it can do a lot of damage. The longer you wait before starting damage control, the harder it’s going to be.
Respond calmly and helpfully. Never get angry. A shouting match won’t do you any good, even if you “win” it in the end. Engaging in a shouting match will give people a very negative impression of your company and will not turn unhappy customers into happy ones. If you did something wrong, you should offer an apology and suggest a way to move forward and fix the problem. Your apology MUST be sincere. It can’t be a canned response like, “We are sorry you’re upset. We hope you will continue to be a loyal customer.” If it is just one customer who had a negative experience, express your regret over what happened and take steps to ensure it doesn’t happen again. Thank them for expressing their opinion, and let them know you heard what they had to say and you hope you can make it up to them. Inject humanity and empathy into your response. You might even put your name and some contact information in there, so the person has someone they can get in touch with directly who they know will do everything they can to help.
You might be tempted to move the conversation away from whatever website it started on, but that’s not always the best approach. If the conversation stays in the open where everyone can see how it plays out, then everyone will be able to see how well you handle customer complaints. They’ll be impressed. Plus, if anyone else was having the same concern as this one loud complainer, they’ll be able to see your response without having to call you up themselves or start their own trouble online. You get to solve their problem before they even bring it up.
That’s the trick to turning complainers into happy, loyal customers. Listen to them, respond to them, solve their problem, and do it all with a calm tone and a caring attitude. They just won’t be able to stay mad.