How To Respond When Customers Get Angry

April 23, 2018

People talk when they’re angry. While frustrated customers are still most likely to share displeasure in-person, 47% of people are also likely to post about it on social media, and 42% would email a company or brand about a bad experience. Your business’s responses to negative feedback matters. In fact, they can transform an angry customer into a brand advocate! Here are five steps to follow when responding to unfavorable comments.

1. Listen to customers.

Check in daily to read all form submissions, comments on social media and new online reviews. When a complaint shows up, don’t offer a generic cut-and-pasted reply. A rote response often appears dismissive and patronizing. Take the time to thoroughly read the feedback and respond to the specific issues stated. If a customer senses your business cares and wants to find a solution, they’re likely to soften. Plus, you never know when paying attention to angry customers could reveal weak points in your product or service that need to be addressed.

2. Troubleshoot where you are.

Troubleshoot with customers wherever they reach out to you—whether it’s by email, on the social media platform or by responding to a review. To do this well, you may need to touch base with your team to make sure you know what questions to ask and what answers to give. In instances where your answer will be publicly shown, tailor your responses to be informative for any future customers who may have similar issues. A personalized, detailed response can keep negative feedback from being an obstacle for future customers.

3. Redirect customers when it gets complicated.

If negative feedback starts on social media or elsewhere online but grows increasingly complicated, follow up by phone or email.  Phone calls, emails or face-to-face chats are indispensable when a customer needs a more involved approach or complex step-by-step help. Redirection is also helpful when requesting personal information, like a shipping address or an email. Comment on the original thread or review that you’d like to move the conversation elsewhere; then initiate contact through a direct message to ease the transition.

4. Go the extra step.

Don’t stop with a solution. While a calm and helpful response can cool fiery customers, going the extra mile is what transforms them into brand advocates. Sometimes this means offering a discounted rate or a free replacement product. Other times, it looks like calling the customer to listen to everything they’ve experienced. It doesn’t have to be an expensive grand gesture. Often a simple handwritten thank-you card will suffice. At the end of each customer service experience, think of a small way to go above and beyond what’s expected.

5. Tune out trolls.

There will always be a few people who don’t want help; they want to vent abusively with the benefit of online anonymity. If a customer grows inflammatory or remains unsatisfied after numerous attempts at a resolution, it’s time to tune them out. However, never decide to cut ties or block a user on social media by yourself. Involve management and customer service team leaders to ensure this action comes from a non-defensive, level-headed spot. Then focus your energy on the customers who do want help.

In a world where 89% of social messages are ignored, responding to customers can help even the smallest business stand out. Following these simple steps creates a customer for life, and often a customer who spreads the good news about your company. Still struggling with how to handle social media responses and customer service? Contact us today for social media help.


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Fresh Creative is a full-service digital marketing agency serving international, national, and local clients. Local areas include Lebanon, Hershey, Harrisburg, York, Lancaster, Lititz and Reading, Pennsylvania.