HELP! Someone is Trash Talking my Business

You go to your Social Media sites and discover that your customer, that is impossible to please, has started trash talking on Social Media about you and your business.  The temptation to just delete it is strong, but should you?  Handling criticism on your Social Media sites can have a huge impact on your business.  Today I am going to give some helpful tips to assist you with this type of problem

Resist the Urge

The urge will be strong to delete the negative comments that appear on your social media sites.  Deleting or ignoring negative comments will have your customers continue with the comments and frustration until you take the time to address them. 


Although you should not be rude, customers should not be rude or disrespectful to your company or towards other fans on your social media channels.  If you have a social media policy in place, you will be able to link that information as a warning to a customer.  If the customer has crossed the line and you have issued a warning, then delete or block that person, otherwise, it is best to not delete those negative comments.

There are tools to help you monitor those conversations:

  • Mention is a free online tool that will allow you to track key mentions not only on social media but on blogs as well.  You can choose the keywords to track and you will be notified when those keywords are used.  This is an absolutely wonderful way to find conversations where people haven’t included your account name in their updates.
  • AgoraPulse is another CRM (customer relationship management) tool.  This will allow you to track when people have commented on your social channels and this includes Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.  Of course when you receive a notification about a comment, you want to respond directly within the app and make the comment as complete.  This is just one more easy way to ensure you are replying to customer comments.

Monitor your Brand

The only way to keep on top of any negative comments (and preventing escalations from even happening) is to monitor what people are saying about your company on Social Media. 


Customers are not going to tag your company name in their Facebook updates or in their tweets.  This can make it a challenge to keep up and track conversations about your company. Using the above mentioned tools will help you do this!

Respond Quickly

Today our society is extremely fast paced.  We want things now and have little patience with waiting.  Our time is valuable and so is the time of your customer or fans/followers.  If your customer has posted something on Social Media, you can bet they are going to be monitoring that site to see responses.  They want to know if someone agrees and helps fuel the fire, but in all honesty, they are hoping for a response from you. 


Several pointers here:

  • Try to respond within an hour to social media comments, positive or negative.  Research shows that 40% of customers expect an answer within hours of leaving a complaint
  • You do not have to have an immediate answer to the problem or situation, but you have to respond.
  • If you do not have a resolution, give the customer an expected response.  This is to prevent negative feedback and manage the expectations. 


Admit your mistake

There is nothing worse in my eyes as a customer than someone that will not own up to the problem.  Starbucks customer service is told to give an empathy statement and own the problem.  That immediately calms some of the fire in the customer.  (This is why Starbucks is known for great customer service and satisfaction)


I recently had a case where an order for Christmas came and two of the items did not arrive.  I immediately called customer service and the representative told me that “I am sorry but we are a small company and we do not have expedited shipping.  Your package will arrive after New Year’s”

My ungracious response was “And that’s it? This is a Christmas present” (There were still 4 shipping days)

Her response was “Yes, that is all” I immediately asked for a supervisor who gave me the same response. 

I asked him “Is this how you handle customer service?  Do you WANT to stay a small company, because this is most definitely the way to do it?”  In the end, I received $10 back on my order and the package was shipped to my out of state son. 

To summarize:

  • Take ownership of the mistake
  • Apologize to the fans, making sure that it is genuine. 
  • Make sure that you include an empathy statement, but make it real, people really know when someone is fake.  If you believe it is not that big a deal, you can always apologize for the frustration they must feel.
  • Be transparent, honest and do everything you can to make it right. 

Here is a great example of Pizza Hut handling mistakes and complaints:



Take the conversation off line

The last thing you want is your customer making more negative comments and then others chiming in and joining your customer.


Preventing any further escalations by speaking one on one will help calm that customer as well as resolve the problem.  It always amazes me how quickly a furious customer can be calmed with the right kind of responses. 

  • Repeat what the customer has told you. 
  • Give an empathy statement. 
  • Paraphrase and take ownership of the problem. 
  • Verify the info and locate the customer’s account, being sure to remember it is always important to thank them for information that they provide to help you locate the account. 
  • Find a resolution that is acceptable to both of you

Make it personal

Never use an automated reply.  If a customer has taken the time to comment on social media, this is a serious issue with them and their friends will be quick to hear about it and chime in with support.  You want to ensure that you are showing the customer that you are taking the time to understand the issue and that you value their input. 

Personally, I receive so many automated Direct Messages on Twitter that I no longer even check them (It is usually spam anyway)  If your customer would have a similar attitude, they would think you have not even responded, which in many ways, you have not.


These tips bear repeating:

  1. Reply with a conversational tone

  2. Let the customer know that you care
  3. Include the customer’s name as you are responding
  4. Let the customer know how you intend to “fix” the issue
  5. If it is a mistake, own it-Take ownership
  6. Acknowledge the customer’s situation in your response, again helping to make it personal

Get some tough skin

First, remember that no one is perfect, we all make mistakes.  Next, remember that the customers are not angry with you as an individual, but rather what they feel has happened to them, or the situation they are in.  If your response is aggressive, or even politely aggressive, the customer will respond in a negative manner causing more harm to your business. 



Plan for Problems

If you are larger than a one man show, have a plan in place.  Ensure that your employees know how to handle a situation and who they need to contact with complaints.  Ensure that a full list of contact details is available.  Never handicap your workers.  If an escalation requires more than what you are allowing your employee to do, you want to allow them the ability to reach out to the appropriate person.  This type of plan in place will speed up your resolution time. 


Bend over Backwards

A customer does not turn to social media until they have not been assisted by the company.  Many companies will receive calls with the customer threatening social media postings.  It is not the intent of using Social Media to get results, it is a threat that social media will be used if there is no resolution to the problem. 

Sometimes the customer is calling just because of the point of the issue. (For example: A sign says one price and rings up as another and the cashier does not assist)

Make sure your customer feels that you are willing to go the extra mile to help solve their problem, even if it means sending the customer to another company or service to get what they need.


Follow Up

Once you have responded to a complaint on social media, do not make the mistake that you have responded to their needs.  Follow up with the customer to make sure you have fully met their  needs.  Many companies now send a survey to fill out, to ensure that the customer is satisfied.  A low scoring survey will signal not only an issue with a potential employee, but it could also mean that the customer is not pleased with the outcome even though the conversation went otherwise.  There are always instances where no matter what you do- the customer is not satisfied, but it is just not worth the reputation of your business to not take that final step. 



Responding quickly and appropriately to negative social comments can help you increase customer loyalty and retention .  Remember it takes time to build trust with your customers, but it can take only seconds to lose it


Your turn:

Please tell us how you handle criticism or negative comments on Social Media below 

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