Originally published on August 26th, 2019. Updated for June 29th, 2021.
If you want to succeed as a business, you need to safeguard your reputation. This means knowing how to deal with customer complaints. It’s impossible to please everyone all the time. So you need to address these as they arise. This is especially true with online complaints, as many of them are posted publicly on social media. Complaints can be a positive thing as long as you learn from them and do not take them personally.
Complaints can help you
Complaints can be hard to take, but it’s important to accept that they will happen. Complaints are inevitable because you’re not perfect. The problem that most people make is that they react and become defensive. Accept that something happened that this customer did not like. Then, think about how you can help going forward. If one person had a problem, another may have the same issue.
Make complaints positive for everyone
Instead of looking at complaints as a negative thing, do something better. Turn them into something positive. Complaints highlight problems with your business. You can learn from them and fix the problems. And if you see a pattern in complaints, fix the underlying problem.
Ways to deal with customer complaints online
1. Figure out the problem
Before responding to your customer, take a step back to figure out what the problem is. When you respond, you want the customer to know that you understand.
2. Respond fast, but not too fast
It’s important to think about how you want to respond, but don’t take too long. Make sure to answer within 24 hours. This will show that your business cares about its customers.
Make sure you are genuine in your response and that you apologize. Customers and employees are human. Humans make mistakes. Admit a mistake happened then remember to accept it and learn from it.
4. Make it right
Offer up quick solutions to avoid things escalating. If there isn’t a quick solution, take the matter out of the public online forum and talk directly. You can do this via email, phone, or private messaging on social media. Make sure you follow up afterward, so you know the customer is happy with the solution.
5. Give yourself a second chance and get over it
It can be hard getting online complaints, but it’s important to move on. Take the criticism and make things better not only for that customer but for all your customers.
Your business’s online presence and reputation are critical to your success. If you deal with customer complaints online in a calm and helpful manner, you will be able to keep and gain new customers.
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