Complaining customers can amplify their voices online. But importantly, you can use those same opportunities to turn negatives into positives.

First, do not delete those ugly comments. Big and small brands learn the hard way that customers can capture screen shots and re-publish them. Deleting comments on your page makes you seem unreliable.

Instead, apologize (“I’m sorry to hear about this” or “That sounds upsetting. I’m sorry.”) These are much better than “I apologize” or “We apologize.” A personal “I’m sorry” can ratchet down the emotions.

Then, solve the problem – offline. Ask the angry customer to call the store or to DM (direct message) you to get the issue resolved. Once you do resolve their issue, don’t ask them to post the resolution back to the social media channel. Some will. Most won’t. But customers scrolling through your feed should see that people who complain get fast responses from your account and that you ask them to take the issue offline where it is (presumably) fixed. That is all you need to do.

Actually, Facebook tracks and lets users know how quickly business pages respond to issues on their page. One of the things you want to do is to quickly respond to both good and poor feedback. Always respond. Always be gracious. Taking the high road with a customer will never leave you with regrets.

Remember that posts on the internet last forever. Theirs and yours. You never want to come across as defensive or upset. Always ask the customer to contact you and then work privately to resolve the situation. If it is a general ugly customer comment like “these guys ripped me off” that has no context or details, simply reply with “It sounds like you had a poor experience and that’s upsetting. I’m sorry. I’d like to hear more details to see what we can do. Please direct message me.” You’ll always sound professional.

Social Media for Gift Shops: Article in the July 2020 issue.