The Value of Your Response on Social Media to Upset Customers

In this article, you’ll learn…

  • From my recent experiences as a customer who complained over social media
  • 5 tips on how to respond to angry customers who have lashed out at you over social media

One of the best ways to learn about social media marketing and the impact it can have for your customers is to use social media as the customer of some other business. You can learn a lot of valuable lessons on how to treat your customers, particularly angry customers, if you are first one yourself. Pay attention to how you are responded to and how that made you feel. Are you more or less likely to do business with the company based on how they responded to you through social media? I have personally had 2 instances in the last couple of weeks in which businesses earned my respect because of how they responded to my displeasure with their business.

Experience #1: I was instructed by my wife, on the morning of the last day of school, to go to McDonald’s and get a gift card for one of my kids teachers as an appreciation gift. This teacher loves McDonald’s. The morning was packed with things to be done and there really was no time to spare. I pull up to the drive up and ask for a gift card. Sadly, they tell me they are out. Okay, fair enough. I travel to the next closest McDonald’s and pull up there. I ask for a gift card and was told that they are out of gift cards. “Really”, I thought to myself? This is a monster chain restaurant. Can they all really be out of gift cards? I tweeted at them expressing my displeasure and end the tweet with the hash tag of #fail. Shortly after, I receive a tweet from someone on the McDonald’s Twitter customer service team. Did you know they have a whole team, website, etc. dedicated to providing customer service via Twitter? I didn’t either. We exchanged several tweets back and forth, which ended with a direct message asking if she could send me some gift cards directly. I was very impressed with how this was handled. They were very professional in their approach and very accommodating. Respect earned.

Experience #2: My wife called me to tell me that the local water park was closing down for the day because they were not making money. She had been there with my kids for the last 2 hours and they were now being kicked out so that they could close. It was a colder day, sure, but that is not why they closed. If the park had been packed they would have stayed open. They tried to claim on their Facebook page that they had closed for the “health and safety of their customers”. I took issue and commented on the post. Needless to say, I stirred a pot with others who “like” them on Facebook. Some supporting me, some saying that I should have my head examined for taking my kids to a water park on such a cold day. In some cases, it got personal. However, The local water park maintained a professional approach in their responses to my “calling them out”. They left my posts up on their Facebook page. They replied several times and was part of the conversation. I noticed that they did delete one post that was particularly personal against me. While I did not agree with their business decision to close the park that day, I gained some additional respect for them based on the fact that they did not shy away from the conversation and kept things respectful when I am sure it was not comfortable for them.

Business owners and marketing professionals everywhere need to learn the lessons of social media customer service. Here are some tips on how to respond and how not to respond to angry customers on social media.

  1. Pay attention! Someone needs to be monitoring the company’s social media accounts and what people are saying.
  2. Do not delete the post of an angry customer. This will only anger them more and send them on a longer rant, and potentially to other places to leave negative reviews.
  3. Address the post in “public”. Let others see your responsiveness and your professional customer service. This will shed good light on your customer service.
  4. If you need to go behind closed doors after first responding publicly, that is fine. In many cases you will want to do this to make sure you do not get a rash of fake complaints trying to get free stuff.
  5. Do not become personal, stay professional. Even if you do not gain them back as a customer, they will respect the fact that you stayed above board on the situation and they are less likely to talk negatively about you.

About the Author: Rick Hardman is an SEO manager at who loves to use social media personally as well as professionally.

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