How to Respond to Angry Customers on Social Media



In case you have not seen it, people can now literally express their anger with you on Facebook in the form of an angry, red-faced scary looking emoji.
Facebook Reactions, the redesigned “like” button, gives users a way to express more than one emotion regarding a post. They can laugh, like it, love it or be surprised, sad or angry. As Social Media Today puts it, “Facebook realizes that negative feelings are feelings too.” There are some brands that could use this well: “The addition of the angry emoji, as well as the sad emoji, can prove useful for purpose-driven organizations. When your mission hinges on a divisive issue, your content often requires the audience to feel outrage.” Nonprofits, hospitals, human rights groups,or other organizations who want to drive awareness about an issue could really use the angry emoji to their advantage.
On the other hand, most brands will want to actively work to avoid the use of the emoji whenever possible. After all, being associated with anger is not the direction companies want their customers to go.

This means that you must be even more careful than usual when responding to posts and handling customer complaints. A visual display of anger is a powerful thing, and one you want to avoid when possible. Essentially, it is another way to leave a review about a business that cannot be removed or edited.

First, respond as quickly as possible to customer complaints. I feel like a broken record on this, but there is no better way to alienate a customer than by responding to their request or complaint 5 hours later (if you need proof, just ask 
John and his friends at United Airlines). Anger often comes from feeling as if you are unheard, or that nobody is listening to the problem. Sometimes, half the battle is just responding at all. Entrepreneur notes that it is important not to act too fast, though: “If responding quickly means not taking the time to fully understand the situation, however, your response may reflect the unpreparedness.”
It is also vital to have a crisis strategy in place in case social media outrage goes viral. Does your team know how to work with the contractor or social media department on handling customer service and satisfaction? In my experience, this usually goes 1-of-2 ways.

I work with many small businesses, and so when there is a complaint, the owner takes it seriously. In fact, it is often difficult for small business owners and entrepreneurs to not take complaints about their company personally, or take them as personal attacks. Especially if the complaint is unfair, it is difficult to see slander and anger posted about your business over the Internet sans defense — I get that.

Take the complaint offline, if possible. The last thing you need is more virile complaints or 10,000 angry emojis all over your posts, so if possible, get the customer’s email address and handle the situation there. I will say that 9 times out of 10, responding with an equally angry or passive-aggressive response will not work out, and the customer does not see your side of the story. Social media is not the place to have that discussion. If it is in your strategy not to let unfair complaints take you down without response, that is your prerogative. I have rarely seen the strategy work as desired.

Instead, take the anger, apologize politely and move on. If there is a real problem with your business, listen to it, but never take a digital complaint personally — it is much easier to complain from behind a computer screen than it is in person. Do not fuel the anger, but keep it at a manageable level, and do better to stave it off in the future.

If you are on any social media platform, you will have to deal with this at some point in your lifecycle. It is part of the game. The key is dealing with it appropriately.

Reprinted by permission.

Image credit: CC by Mario_Mancuso

About the author: Maggie Happe

Maggie Happe is a recent graduate of Creighton University and a contributor to Social Media Contractors.

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