Unfortunately, it will happen to your business.

A customer will have a less than great experience. It could be anything from a customer having to wait too long for service, experiencing terrible service where one of your employees is flippant or rude or the product doesn’t meet their expectations.

Some people are gracious and will kindly explain the situation. And others will seek vengeance – letting everyone they know that they should not frequent your business.

Too often clients will turn to social media to express their displeasure. A Tweet about how your coffee takes like muddy water or a Facebook post about how your catering company didn’t provide enough food for a wedding or how your dress shop lost the mother of the bride’s dress on a social media site reaches thousands of people. And we all know how much people like to gossip. The story may start that a client bought of bottle of wine that was corked on Twitter and end up the client found bugs in the wine bottle on Facebook.

So what do you do when a customer goes off on a tirade about your business on a social media site?

Let’s start with what not to do.


  1. Get upset. We know it’s hard not to take it personal when a customer compares your business to a rat infested garbage dump. Or tells everyone not to use your photography because she doesn’t like the way you made you look. Whatever the complaint may be – whether it is valid or not – just read it and try to understand where the customer is coming from.
  2. Offer a weak, insincere apology. People know when you are being honest and when you are giving them the brush off. The quick and easy thing it may seem to do when a customer leaves a negative remark is to apologize. Only do so if you know you are going to be sincere. A horrible apology only leads to more fuel for the complainer. If you read a comment and you don’t have an answer – write that. Simply say thank you for voicing your concerns. Tell the customer you need some time to figure out how to properly solve the problem. Ask if you can respond to their complaint in the next two business days. It’s better to say nothing at first, than say something out of anger that you will regret.
  3. Ignore the remark. While you may want to say “whatever” when you read a harsh comment or that you cannot please everyone, it’s not a good idea to let people vent about your business without responding. If you don’t respond, it’s almost like saying you don’t care what your customers think or that the comment is correct. While it’s a challenge, try to respond within 24 hours to both negative and positive remarks.
  4. Delete negative comments unless they contain foul language, are insulting or would offend a customer. It’s OK to let the world know you aren’t perfect. If you delete a comment, then it says you are pretending nothing is wrong or ever will be wrong. And you can always turn a negative into a positive. Always in a sincere way tell the customer you appreciate the feedback and you plan to learn from the incident as a way to improve your business and make it even better.

DO –

  1. Provide an answer that will benefit everyone. When responding to a complaint about the your product arriving three days late, you can share how the stormy weather and a downed power line for three days prevented you from contacting your customers. If a customer is complaining about the service they received, explain your company’s policy for working with an employee. Try to think of it this way – if one customer has a legitimate complaint – others may too.
  2. Always remember – Every problem has a solution. Being a business owner is stressful with demanding hours and endless responsibilities. When a customer complains about your company, it’s easy to take it personally. Instead, look at as a challenge – what can you do to make your business even better.
  3. Walk in the customer’s shoes – Try to understand why they left a negative remark. Are they seeking attention? Truly upset with verified bad service? The better you understand why the person left the remark the better you can reply and solve it.
  4. Realize when enough is enough – If a customer came to your restaurant for his anniversary dinner and had to wait more than an hour only to be served slightly warm food – that’s a legitimate complaint. If he complains using social media, apologize to him on the site and in a phone call or email, offer two dinners on the house – that’s good public relations. If he insists on bringing two friends and that you buy dinner for them too, that’s taking advantage of your kindness. And enough is enough.
  5. Most importantly – kill them with kindness. Regardless of what a customer says about your business – unless it is libelous or slanderous than contact your lawyer– be nice to them. They can be bitter but you can be the better person. If they write something unkind, write something kind. If they insult you, compliment them. Kindness always triumphs in the long run. As my mom used to tell me, “You’ll catch more flies with honey than vinegar.”

If you need more assistance in handling negative feedback, give Oregon Marketing Group a call or send us an email. We will help you develop a winning game plan to handle the most negative opponent.

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