Customer Support and Social Media: When You Should and Shouldn’t Respond To Nasty Tweets

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If you’re a business owner who regularly interacts with customers, the chances are good that, at some point, you’ve received a few unkind words about your products or services. Although a polite apology may be easy enough when facing a frustrated customer in your store or shop, you may be somewhat more confused about the “right” thing to do when you receive a nasty critique over social media, a verbal assault that millions can see!

Really, there’s no “perfect’ way to handle this situation. If you’ve ever browsed the Twitter or Facebook pages of your favorite businesses, you’ll see that disparaging comments and unfair critiques are just part of the biz. In certain circumstances, though, it may be in your best interest to confront these accusations head on, a move that will not only demonstrate your receptivity and attentiveness to your customers but may also offer you the opportunity to rectify any misinformation that may be spreading about your business! Here are a few ideas about when a response may or may not be appropriate.

Situation #1 : A Customer Calls You Out On Something You’ve Screwed Up On

In situations where a customer either tactfully or gruffly points out a mistake you have made, your best move may be to address the issue head on. Instead of ignoring this comment or responding with a variation on “we’re looking into the problem”, try this :

“Dear [insert customer name here],
Thank you for your message. Yes, this was our mistake. We apologize, and hope you will give us the opportunity to correct this for you.”

Seems pretty simple, right? You’ll accomplish two great things with a message like this. Not only will you demonstrate to your online customer base that you don’t consider yourself so far “above” your customers that a response isn’t necessary, but you will also drive the point home that you will work hard to retain the loyalty of those who do business with you. Both customer AND corporate loyalty is a rare thing these days – this type of honest gesture is guaranteed to turn heads.

Situation #2 : You’ve Really Screwed Up And Are Receiving Hundreds of Nasty Tweets

Let’s imagine the worst : say, for example, you’ve released a new product or service, only to find that an integral component needs to be recalled and thousands of customers will be left frustrated. After the announcement, it’s almost guaranteed that you will be barraged with anger from those who were looking forward whatever it is you had to offer them.

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In this situation, it’s going to be impossible to make amends with everyone who has a bone to pick with you. That doesn’t mean, however, that you can ignore them either! Try something like this :

“ To all of our customers affected by [inset crisis here] :
We sincerely apologize. We are working hard to fix the situation
and will provide further information shortly.”

You’re not going to make any friends with a message like this, but you certainly won’t make any enemies, either. Whatever you do, DO NOT RESPOND TO INDIVIDUAL COMPLAINTS OVER SOCIAL MEDIA IN SITUATIONS LIKE THESE. By doing so, you open the floodgates for thousands of angry messages which, due to the fact that you have already responded to one, you will be indebted to reply to.

Situation #3 : You’ve Done Nothing Wrong And Someone Is Just Crazy

Every once in a while, the crazies will make themselves heard over social media. If you’re twitter page has been hit by nasty, completely unwarranted and relatively incomprehensible tweets from someone, JUST IGNORE THEM or deal with the issue privately. By acknowledging these tweets publicly, you give them some level of legitimacy, which is the last thing you want to do! Additionally, if your business receives large number of customer tweets on a daily basis, these crude messages will be pushed off of your homepage in a matter of hours.

When To Draw The Line

All in all, it’s important to remember that social media is a volatile, unpredictable world. If you’re in the business of interacting with customers, it’s crucial for you to be able to successfully determine when and how to communicate with them. If you’ve received a series of outrageous, over-the-top messages from a particular individual that you feel are damaging your professional reputation, then it’s time to take action. If you’re feeling patient, we suggest sending a private message to the individual harassing you and asking them to refrain from sending future messages. If this doesn’t work, try contacting the social media platform you’re using and lodging a formal complaint. Many of these platforms are firmly committed to protecting the rights of their users, and will work with you to ensure that you can effectively engage with your customers.


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