As the cliché goes, “You can’t please everyone.” This is as true in business as it is in other realms. As hard as you work to please your patrons, there will always be customers who will be dissatisfied. With the advent of social media, those customers now have the opportunity to let the world know about their displeasure. If you are an entrepreneur, be prepared to have complaints about your business broadcast loudly and clearly.

Dealing with Unhappy Customers

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Even though you can’t control your customers, you can control your reaction to them. Make sure to have a game plan for handling consumers’ complaints and negative comments.

Some people like to sidestep confrontation by simply ignoring criticism, but the better course of action is to respond to it head on. Otherwise, you give the impression that you are ignoring customers or that you agree with their complaints.

Once you learn that a customer has negative feedback about your products or services, be sure to respond to their concerns immediately. You might even be able to convert complainers into loyal customers.

Here are a few ideas for dealing constructively with complaints that surface on social media:

  • Staying updated on conversations – Be aware of what people are saying about your brand or product. Jump into the discussion when appropriate. People will view you as responsive to customer concerns when you are involved in social media conversations.
  • Respond quickly – An immediate response could pacify a complaining patron. If you fail to intercede promptly, the issue could escalate, with more people discussing the criticism as well as your failure to respond. Even if you can’t provide an immediate solution, your timely reply is often enough to mollify customers and let them know you are earnestly trying to help.
  • Deliver authentic apologies – Some people think that apologies reflect badly on a company because they are an admission of guilt. A genuine apology, however, can strengthen your image as an authentic, responsive, understanding professional.
  • Behave like a friend – Calm complaining customers by listening empathetically and offering something to make the situation right. An angry patron may feel like an enemy, but treating them as an individual and friend can shift your paradigm.
  • Show genuine effort – After apologizing, make sure to post what steps you took to solve the problem. Show the online community that you are a person of action.

Whatever you do, don’t let your temper escalate in online conversations. The reverberations will be far-reaching. Use tact, understanding, and fairness, and you may be surprised to see yourself coming out ahead—even from a tough situation.