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How To Answer Complaints Online

How To Answer Complaints Online

Find out the best ways to handle and answer complaints online in order to minimize damage and help your business retain its credibility.

To some managers, the customer is always right. However, just as there is a limit as to how many times you can laugh at an episode of Big Bang Theory, there is a limit as to how much a customer can demand before things get unreasonable. Simply put, dealing with customers who are asking for way too much often means that you cannot get away without incurring a loss.

The problem with unreasonable clients is that they often have no problem complaining about your company online if they don’t get their way, and they might get even angrier if you bar them from your business. When this happens, it can turn into a pretty big potential hit for your company if the situation isn’t handled the right way. So it is essential to know how to properly answer complaints online in order to minimize damage and help your company retain it’s credibility.

  1. Before you do anything, calm yourself down. Yes, that customer may have been a total jerk.  Yes, he/she may have berated you, your employees, and everything about your company. Yes, he/she may be smearing your name around the net. However, retaliating in anger is only going to make you look unprofessional, so it is important to take a deep breath before you answer complaints online, because you don’t want to end up with a PR nightmare on your hands.
  2. If possible, address them privately to try to smooth things over. Be professional and explain to them why you have issue with how they are acting and/or what they posted about your company. Give them legitimate reasons why they are in the wrong, such as “how you were handling yourself in regards to my business was uncalled for” or “we do not allow our staff to do XYZ due to liability issues.” Keep it polite, and respectfully request a retraction of a statement.
  3. Consider trying to accommodate them, and look at your customer service work to see whether or not it needs improvement. If you’re getting a lot of customers who are unreasonable, you may want to look at your business plan. It is important to be aware of all angles of the situation when you answer complaints online, ask your employees for guidance and advice, do not spare any effort in making sure that this is indeed the fault of the customer, and not of yourself. If, after taking a deep breath and more closely analyzing the situation, you find that you do share some of the blame, simply admit that you are wrong, and take steps (publicly) to ameliorate it.
  4. Do not allow them to request services or extreme discounts that they do not deserve. Many charlatans will often behave unreasonably with businesses, trash the company’s name online, or post a negative review simply with the goal of being compensated. They will often expect company owners to give in to their insane demands simply to try and damage-control the situation before it spreads. Do not bend to these kinds of people, because they will only get worse. It’s not worth the falsified bad review or the retraction of their statement in the long run.
  5. If they refuse to retract their statement, don’t be afraid to openly address the issue online. On Facebook, Yelp, and Google Business, you can actually address the angry customer if you are the owner of the business.  By doing this, you will show that you take a direct interest in the welfare of your customers, and do not simply hand off the difficult task to a lesser employee.  Also, when you answer complaints online you are addressing the issue publicly, which will show that you have nothing to hide, which goes a long way in the eyes of your customers.
  6. Cut your losses. So, Mr. Unreasonable and his friends have sworn off your company. Is it really that big of a loss? Sometimes, it’s better to lose bad customers than to gain more headaches.  And in the process, if you utilize these tips to properly answer complaints, you will have also displayed your work ethic, understanding nature, and the transparency and trustworthiness of your company by responding well, and publicly, to issue such as this one.  Read more about how bad publicity can actually lead to good PR here.

If you’ve dealt with unreasonable customers, you know how bad it can be. The good news is that if you approach the way you answer online complaints with tact, you may end up better off than you started out.