I know that many people have different views on how best to handle an angry customer. Some people will advise you to delete negative comments about your brand, and ignore them. I take the opposite approach, and with the right strategy in place you can turn an angry customer into a brand advocate.

There are pro-active steps you can take to help ensure that you will not create an angry customer on a social media rampage.

  1. Have a strategy ready before you see a negative review; make sure all of your team members know what steps to take if they find a negative post about your brand, and who they should contact if they have questions.
  2. Establish a relationship with a few loyal customers who you can call on if you ever need some brand advocates to help you convince an angry customer that your brand does value their customers.
  3. Have a commenting policy in place on your blog, Facebook page, etc. This way you will have something to fall back on when that angry customer does not want to resolve their issue but instead drag you to the brand grave.

But no matter how great your planning is, eventually you’ll run into that angry customer you so fear. What do you do next? Follow these four steps.

  1. Listen: Make sure you are constantly monitoring your brand online; I’m not just referring to Facebook and Twitter. You need to be using a monitoring tool. If you do not have a budget for purchasing a tool you can use Google Alerts for free.
  2. Evaluate: Some people just like to complain, and they may take their complaint to other review sites or social networks. They might continue to comment under their original complaint. Make sure you are watching to see how they react. Some people don’t check their mentions and you could never hear from them again, but at least you will have your post showing that you responded in a positive manner. That is what matters to others who will see your brand name online.
  3. Engage: Immediately say you’re SORRY. I don’t care if it isn’t not your fault; you need to apologize for their unsatisfied experience. If the complaint is from a service they received from your business then you could write “I’m very sorry for your experience. I would like to resolve this for you immediately. Please DM me your contact info here, or e-mail me at support@bestbrandonline.com, and you can call me at 1-800-HappyCustomers.” Try to get the conversation offline as quickly as possible.
  4. Follow up: Whether you took the conversation offline or left it online, follow up with this angry customer down the road. Check in to see if they received their refund, or if the service provider met their concerns on his/her next visit. This is how you will turn the angry customer into a brand advocate. Show them that they matter, and that you value them as a client.

Have you witnessed a social media hurricane? How did you handle it?

This post is by Jennifer MacDonald, director of community and client engagement at Engage 121.

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