If you have any kind of social media presence at all you’ll be familiar with these customers/clients. Sometimes it’s a simple fix, sometimes it’s a misunderstanding, sometimes it’s a warranty problem, and other times? It’s just someone having a bad day, and you’re their chosen sounding board. Here’s how to manage all of those types of people to avoid having egg on your face on your public business page.
1. We Hear You
Tell the person who has commented or messaged you that you’ve received their message and that you will return to them as soon as you can with a solution. That last bit is crucial, because they want to know you’re happy to help them fix it. (Even if you know it can’t be fixed.) This gives them time to calm down, cool off and perhaps be able to deal with you in a way that is more fair, and reasonable when you come back to them to discuss why it happened, and how to move forward thereafter.
For example: you have offered a digital download of a weed identification guide for people who have purchased your gardening tutorial program. Someone gets on your Facebook page and lambastes you for giving them a broken link and vows never to shop with you again. Their comment appears on the left side of your page under “posts by others” but it’s still visible. As you investigate the problem, you realize it must be something on the user’s computer preventing them from downloading the content. It could be their antivirus or a number of other things which stop it at the firewall, but it’s not from your end.
FIRST THINGS FIRST
The first thing to do is to message the person as a reply directly to their negative post on the page. Leave it up there and tell them you’ll be messaging them via PM to solve this for them. Be sure you message them the moment you see the post. Then you can dig around to find out what is going on, and once you feel you’ve done all you can, message them to let them know.
TRY YOUR BEST
In this case, you’d just tell them that you have checked your link and found it working and to try again. If it still fails, you can advise them to check their antivirus program and firewall to allow the site through. If they want to know how to do that, just let them know politely that they can find the answer on Google, and that every computer/antivirus and firewall is different, and that you’re no expert so it’s best they discover what their system needs personally, and if they are unable, to ask someone who is brilliant with computers. Do all you can to help them, and if you DO know enough about computers to be confident you can solve this, then do so. The take home point here is, answer them immediately wherever they have messaged you, and don’t take overlong to follow-up.
2. Photograph It
The person might delete their comment or message to you after you’ve dealt with them fairly, so it’s best to take a photo of the message with either a screenshot or even a cell photo works. You can use this as a training opportunity for others doing the same job, or you can save it in the client’s file so you can follow up with them once you do have the answer (if that answer will take over a day). Be sure you keep in touch with the person if the answer will be long in coming because people are happy just getting updates, so they know they have not been forgotten, and are still a priority.
3. Keep It.
It might be very tempting to delete that post, because to you – it’s damning. To use the same example as above, you don’t want your gardening clients to think you’re a bad businessperson and are someone to avoid buying from. You feel that leaving it up there will make you lose face in public, and it is embarrassing and an unfair representation of your company. If you delete it, you’re only showing the public that you have things to hide from them and that destroys trust, which is fundamental to online marketing.
Be transparent, open and honest with your clients even when they’re being terrible to you, and show publicly, that you have great customer service. This is your chance to shine, and you can look at it like an opportunity – not like taking a punch instead. Refer back to the first point made here for dealing with the comment, but leave it up for all to see. There is a good reason the saying goes, “there is no such thing as bad publicity.” Capitalize on every opportunity you get. Responding publicly to a bad comment and having the confidence to leave it up there can only do wonderful things for your business.
4. Don’t Wait
If someone has said something awful on social media about you or to you, you need to respond the moment you see it (to reiterate what was said previously). This cannot be overstated. In today’s fast-paced world your clients expect you to respond within an hour. Even if you don’t have a solution, message them to let them know what you ARE doing about their problem. People will appreciate your timely response, and will feel valued that you care enough to fix it for them (to the best of your ability).
5. “You Wouldn’t Like Me When I’m Angry”
Like Hulk, you need to keep your head cool and calm, be reasonable and not hot-headed. That solves nothing, and often makes the situation worse. Be sure when you write your response to someone, that you craft it carefully, have it proofread for accuracy and care, and then go over it yourself a few times to ensure you’ve said all you can, as calmly as possible to alleviate the problem. If you’re commenting to them as a response to their public comment, then this is even more important to be tactful.
NOTHING IS PRIVATE ONLINE
Remember that even if you think your conversation with them is only between you and the client, that the internet remembers. Screenshots are commonplace these days and it is nothing at all for your client to screenshot your conversation with them and post it publicly to humiliate you. Definitely use your head, calm down, think fast, and answer with confidence. If you cannot answer immediately due to your own anger at the comment, then have someone else do so in your stead, or swallow your pride and anger long enough to tell the client that you’re working on a solution.
6. Final Responses are Key
Whatever you say when you follow-up with your client needs to be the winning moment for you, where an angry client is transformed into an overjoyed client who is happy to go out and shout your praises about your brand to others. If you are in that terrible position of not being able to satisfy the client with a solution, as with something on the client’s computer mentioned in the first point – then try to do something extra for them. Offer them your time, or a small service, but give them something so they don’t feel hard done by. Be sure you ask them if there is anything else that you can do for them, and make sure you apologize in your response even if you have fixed it. By taking the blame squarely on yourself, and doing everything you can to fix it, your clients will feel valued and important, and they’ll also feel vindicated.
Using the same scenario as before, your final response might be, “Hi again [name], I’ve looked at our link for the download and have determined that it is working on our end, and I have asked my co-workers to check the link as well. It seems to be working for all of us, so I’d ask that you try your download again. If it fails again, let us know and I can try to help from that point.”
Customer says, “I just tried it again, and it still isn’t working, it does nothing for me.”
Answer, “Thank you for trying that again for me. Gosh I’m stumped! It could be your firewall or your antivirus which is stopping your download, but I fear I don’t know enough about antivirus programs and firewalls to be of much help getting it to work. I can give you a few links from Google about how to allow something through if you like? Or perhaps you know someone who is great with computers? I’m so sorry I can’t be of more help there, and I do apologize for this setback.”
Customer says, “Okay, sure I’ll take those links. I think I know someone who can help me at work, but thanks for all the help.”
Answer, “Anytime! I hope these links help you (insert your researched links) and that your co-worker is able to assist. If you still cannot download the free gift, let me know and I’ll find another delivery method for you. Also, for your trouble I’ve entered a coupon code: IST56R for your next purchase, just use it at checkout to get 15% off your next purchase with Garden Goddess. Thank you again for being a loyal customer.”
Handling angry customers is something of an art form, and is not something that just anyone is great at doing automatically. People who are trained to be managers often go through rigorous training to handle these difficult people, because the first reaction is usually to get upset and lash out, or get rid of the negativity. Starting an argument with a client where the client is wrong and you are right, is the wrong way to go about business and certainly cannot fix problems.
Hiding (deleting) the comment as though it never happened destroys trust, and makes your company look like it has something to hide. It also invalidates the client’s feelings and anger, which can make the situation worse. Ignoring them is another good way to lose clients. Never underestimate word of mouth, because all it takes is one upset client who is well-connected to ruin your business entirely. Take care of your customers and they’ll take care of you!