Social media can be a powerful tool for a business.  It can help them connect and engage with current and prospective clients, increase brand awareness, website traffic and sales.  Unfortunately, it’s not perfect. Things can go wrong – an unhappy customer, a service disruption or faulty product. Social media is a public form opening your business up to a world of criticism. But, it’s not always a bad thing.

Connecting with your customers and encouraging dialogue is a great way to establish trust and show the human side of your brand. That’s why you should always deal with it, don’t delete it. Responding to a negative comment instead of deleting it gives your business the opportunity to show your customers how you handle tough situations.  Your customer has obviously shown a sense of loyalty to your company (they have either spent money with your business or showed interest in doing so), but they’ve now had a bad experience. They want to be heard and they want you to reciprocate that same loyalty.

I think sometimes a business can forget that dealing with complaints via social media is not very different to dealing with complaints face-to-face. You would never ignore a customer standing in front of you, walk away from them or apologise without offering a solution, so why would it be acceptable to do so via social media?

Responding to complaints is one of the most important activities of social media management. Getting it right is equally important, as the examples at the end of the post demonstrate.

When you deal with complaints effectively, you can turn an unhappy customer into your business’s personal evangelist. The key to successful responses is usually fairly simple. Be honest, apologise if you’re at fault, and suggest a way to remedy the problem.

No method is flawless, and there will always be people you can’t satisfy. But by treating customers, as you would like to be treated yourself, you can take a potentially bad situation and use it to establish trust and brand loyalty in a very public forum. You would never have had the opportunity to do if you had deleted the comment.