How to Deal with Customer Complaints on Social Media

You’ve set up all of your social media accounts and everything looks and feels great, then, BAM! You get a customer complaint.

Oh crap…!

As you can imagine, there’s a right and a wrong way to respond to complaints and when it happens to be on social media, greater care needs to be taken.


The whole world is watching, listening and waiting for your response.

In this article, I’m going to show how our clients deal with customer complaints and what methods you can use to manage them the exact same way.

Respond Quickly

The speed and efficiency in which you respond to customer complaints are key. Especially if you have an active social media account. I’ve found that the popular social networks people leave complaints on are Twitter and Facebook (more so on Twitter).

Where possible, try to respond to a complaint within an hour. Now, don’t get me wrong, you don’t need to come up with a full blown answer straight away, you just need to respond and show the world that you’ve seen the complaint and are taking it seriously.

How to Deal with Customer Complaints on Social Media

You’ll find that customers just want an acknowledgement first and are happy for you to respond later when you have had time to think about your answer.

At this point, it’s important to let them know when they are likely to get a full response. For example, if the complaint has been left at the weekend, a good time to get back to them would be Monday morning. Obviously, if you run a service that’s time-sensitive, then you’ll need to reply back quicker.

The reason for giving a timeline is to manage their expectations and reduce further negative comments. We found companies that don’t respond in this way, attract further complaints and criticism from other disgruntled customers.

Depending on the size of your business, complaints left at the weekend should still be dealt with by giving a response. If you’re a one-man band then that might be stretching it just a little…

Acknowledge Mistakes

Acknowledge Mistakes

If you’ve messed up, come clean and don’t hide behind jargon, T’s & C’s or company policy. In this day and age that simply won’t fly…! Customers are now extremely net-savvy and know they can seriously hurt your brand if their complaint isn’t dealt with in the right way. Own up to your mistakes and be upfront – your customers will thank you for it.

When you own up, there’s a small bit of closure. The customer recognises your response and is now waiting for the solution. There’s no need for them to carry on the rant or have conversations with others in a similar situation.

When you reply to a complaint on social media, make sure it’s genuine and not scripted. Customers can tell if you’ve simply copied and pasted an answer and it will probably annoy them even more. The key is to mirror the exact same words they used in their original tweet or message and keep the tone soft and reassuring. This isn’t the time to disagree or criticise their stance. You need to show you care and are willing to tackle the problem.

Take It Offline

What you’re trying to avoid is a siege-mentality on your feed. This is the time to take the complaint offline and deal with it one-to-one, via email or by phone. More importantly, drag the conversation offline so the public can’t see or read your responses. You may have to give a discount, refund or admit a fault with a product – this isn’t something that the public needs to see in real time.

How to Deal with Customer Complaints on Social Media

Escalation Process

To avoid a build-up of customer complaints (that sounds bad, doesn’t it?), ensure you have an escalation process in place. This means, there should be a clear hierarchy of authority and staff need to know who they can go to next, should it be necessary.

If you run a small business, this should be pretty easy – customer service will be dealt with by you, the person in the office wearing several hats. If you have a midsize company, you need a clear structure of who’s in charge and who has the ability to make prompt decisions.

Follow Up


follow up with complaints

Even if you’ve taken the conversation offline, make sure you add additional comments on social media and ask the customer if they are happy with the response. If the problem has been resolved, this allows your customer the chance to jump back into the conversation to confirm that their complaint has been dealt with – you may even get a testimonial out of the whole process.

If the customer leaves a nice response, you should copy this and add it to your testimonial page. I advise my clients to take a screenshot and embed this on their website (social proof).

Don’t Delete Negative Comments

Nothing will rile your customers up more than finding out that you have deleted their negative comment.

Just don’t do it!

Potential customers need to see how you deal with a complaint to give them assurance that they are dealing with a reputable company.

If you find yourself dealing with a rude customer (where they are abusive and using rude language), always refer them to an offline email or say you’re happy to talk to them in person to get the problem rectified. I think it goes without saying not to take the bait and respond in the same way.

Final Thoughts

Never has it been so important to deal with customer complaints swiftly and efficiently. Social media is as transparent as it gets – reputations can be won and lost within days depending on your response.

Granted, the customer isn’t always right, I acknowledge that. However, just because they are wrong, doesn’t give you the right to ignore them or shame them into backing down.

So, what do you think? Is this the way you’ve dealt with customer complaints in your business? Do you think this way is correct or is there a better way?

I’d love to hear your thoughts?

About the Author Des

Des is a full-time online marketer who sells information products and a membership program. He tests and studies what does and doesn't work and then shares his findings on this website. He takes you behind the scenes of how he runs his business to help you market yours.

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