Responding to customers on social media can be an obstacle for even the most savvy social media expert. Even the Prime Minister summed up – in his own eloquent way – the problems we can all face on social media.

“The trouble with Twitter, the instantness of it – too many tweets might make a t%@t.”

David Cameron MP

Social media can be one of the toughest platforms for your business. This opinion arena can affect your business, irrespective of whether you have a social media account or not. If your customer isn’t happy, they can let the rest of your customers and potential customers know about it – whether you like it or not! What’s worse, if you don’t even acknowledge the complaint head-first on social media (not to mention in a reasonable time frame!) this can only damage your reputation further.

So what are the actions you should take against unhappy customers who raise complaints on social media and how should you tackle responding to customers on social media?

Communication Is Key On Social Media 

Nobody likes to be criticised, but the worst thing you can do is ignore a complaint. It’s easy to ignore someone once they have expressed their complaint, but ignoring them can lead to further problems later down the line. Your reputation is at stake after all.  A dissatisfied customer wants someone to listen to them, so by responding to customers on social media and acknowledging  their complaint,  your customer knows you are doing something about the issue.


Your customer has been given the opportunity to express their viewpoint, so now they want to know that what they has been listened to and understood and that someone actually cares about what they’ve said! Respond to customers on social media with empathy. Understand their frustrations, their disappointment and the acknowledge the facts of the situation that are causing them to feel like that.

The Name Game

One important rule to remember when responding to customer on social media is to call someone by their name. This makes your response more personal. Recognising who you are speaking demonstrates to the customer that you are taking a tailored approach to their complaint, you are taking what they say seriously and you realise that their complaint is important. Using a customer’s name shows that you care about speaking to them as a human being and that you’re not simply copying and pasting a response from a customer service script without really understanding what the problem is.

Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word

Many organisations drill into their customer service team to never use the word sorry, especially when responding to customers on social media. But why? Your customer wants to hear that you are sorry for the inconvenience caused to them. Expressing empathy before apologising demonstrates that you understand the reason for your apology. Don’t forget the difference between apologising for something that was your fault and apologising without accepting the blame, for example, “I’m sorry for the misunderstanding” or “I’m sorry you feel you weren’t treated fairly”.

Take Action

Customers complain because they feel something needs to be done to resolve whatever went wrong. If you can fix a problem straight away, then do so. If not, action needs to be taken. Tell your customer exactly what you’re going to do to resolve the problem. A clear explanation goes a long way in making the customer feel like something is going to be done about their problem. You want to instil a sense of confidence when responding to customer on social media. Tell them that you will work to resolve their complaint and leave them feeling satisfied that they have been dealt with in a fair way.

If your business offers good customer service, your reputation can proceed you. This goes hand in hand with how someone may complain to you. If your company is renowned for listening to customers and dealing with them in a fair way, this will be reflected in how customers approach  you too. Customers will be less aggressive in their approach if they know your company treats them like a human being and actually listens to them. We all remember the times we were treated unfairly or experience really bad customer service, but we especially remember when we were surprised to have received excellent customer service! Don’t forget, all customer service complaints aren’t that bad! Sainsbury’s responded to one customer on Twitter with a series of fish puns, which made light of a missing bar code situation.  

Social media continues to grow as an immediate channel for customer engagement. One way to ensure that you provide excellent customer service via your social media channels is to have ongoing social media management support.

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