How To Handle Complaints On Social Media

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They say there’s no such thing as bad publicity, pfft. But we’ve all been there when someone gets a bit complainy on social media

At one stage or another, every business will have to deal with that dreaded complaint message that pops into their inbox.

Do we take it personally? Or use it as a prime marketing opportunity to wow even the most negative customer? 

Hold onto your manners, because Wednesday’s are about to get GIANT.


Hi! my name is Danny and welcome to Giant Wednesday, the only place to be to discover the wonderful world of digital marketing. Don’t forget to subscribe to our channel and post your comments below.

So, dealing with social media complaints. 

The way you deal with online criticism is important.

Your response should reassure the customer that they are a real priority to the business and show that you are doing everything you can to help them with their complaint. 

But honestly, we get it, sometimes you just want to reply with an eye roll emoji and be done with it. 

But quick, before you make a rash decision that could land you in a bit of trouble with your manager let me run you through three things that’ll help you play it cool. (thumbs up like the fonz)

#1 – Respond Quickly to customer complaints!

Some advice, one social guy to another, is to reply to any complaint within the first hour of it emerging.

If they say you suck, you can refer them on to make a complaint, that’s easy.

But don’t panic if it’s a complaint demanding a little more than a referral link or an apology!

If you don’t have all the answers right away then a simple acknowledgement of their issue will help reassure the complainer. Let them know you’re looking into it and will get back to them asap.

After you have addressed the complaint, let customers know when they can expect a response or solution, but be sure to set a realistic time frame for a response and stick to it! You don’t want to encourage any more drama.

We’ve covered it before in a previous video but it was found by Sprout Social that the average consumer expects a response through social in less than four hours. But shockingly, the average brand response is 10 hours. Don’t be that brand.

This can be easily managed through things like Google Alerts and handy tools like Hootsuite and Sprout Social.

All of these tools allow you to monitor how people are speaking about your brand and give you the opportunity to respond hopefully in less than 10 hours.

Moving on before I get a complaint… 


 #2 – Create a draft message so you can be as speedy as can be.

Using drafts means you can be super speedy in response to any complaints that come your way. Gotta go fast!

You can set auto responses on things like Facebook Messenger, use tools to set up auto responses to keywords in Twitter messenger and have shortcut responses in Instagram chat. So many possibilities!

But remember, people aren’t stupid, they can spot a copy and pasted apology a mile off. Make your drafts humanistic in tone of voice and template, keep them simple and use their name. Make them feel special.

Also, why not build a document with contact details of different departments of your business?

This way those monitoring your social channels can get the answers they need quickly from the most suited and booted… or, rather, the most educated in the subject.

Especially handy if you’ve got a big team!

Now, time for…


#3 – Make the response public and personal

As I just mentioned, people can spot robotic responses a mile away. So make sure you make the time, or use a super clever automation tool, to personalise the response to any complaint.

If anything, a genuinely personalised response will always be better. But we understand some brands are just too big for that kinda thing!

If they can see you sympathising with them genuinely, they’re more likely to respond better.

Make sure to acknowledge any mistakes they’ve addressed and take ownership of the problem they’re experiencing. You can’t fob off the people of the internet, they’ve got smarts.

Make them feel valued. Focus on the task at hand and find a solution… in less than 10 hours mind! 

And finally, whilst sometimes it’s easier and less stressful to take the messages and complaints out of the public eye, it can appear like you’re trying to hide something. 

Be transparent and solve potential dramas for all to see. Show off how awesome you are and you never know, it might save one more complaint from appearing. Multiple birds, one Tweet.


And that’s some of my advice! If you have made a mistake, it’s best to just be honest and do everything in your power to fix the situation as quickly as possible. 

But obviously you’ve got to remember you’re a brand and you’ve got an image to uphold!

What’re your thoughts on dealing with customer complaints? What tactics have worked successfully for your business? Did you learn something new, or did we miss something…?

Go forth and comment your views on this and give us a like and subscribe to see more great digital and marketing content every week.

Thanks for watching, and we’ll see you next week for another GIANT Wednesday.

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