Social media is a powerful tool to establish a brand name and reputation. Not only does it bring more targeted traffic to your website, it also helps to connect and engage with your existing and prospective customers, showing a more human face of your company as well as establishing trust and loyalty.

However, when discussing social media strategies (Facebook in particular) with our clients, I realised that the majority of them were actually concerned about negative comments or complaints being showcased.

While customer complaints on Facebook (or Twitter) may look like a bad thing at first, they can actually be good for your business because they give you an opportunity to publicly display your customer service. By providing exceptional customer service and solving customer problems on Facebook you can increase customer loyalty, brand image and therefore sales! But, how do you do this?

Here are some tips for dealing with complaints on Facebook. Remember that your aims are to retain the business of the angry customer and also the business of other fans who “like” your page.

Never ignore and always respond quickly. If you ignore the complaint this will only demonstrate (publicly) that you don’t care about your customers and will lead to further and maybe worse comments. Do not put your reply off. If the complaint or negative comment made you stressed or even angry, just take a few minutes to think about it before answering. Try to imagine what you would say to this client if it was a face to face situation in front of other customers. Respond, don’t react!

Contact your customer privately. Once you have replied to them publicly, send them a private message or email. From then on, it is just a matter of dealing as if it were a more typical complaint, acknowledging their dissatisfaction with your company and offering your help to make things right. Never deal publicly with the complaint. Dealing with your customer privately allows you to give them some personal attention, showing them that you care.

Leave a response to the original comment. Once the issue is resolved and your customer is satisfied, do not hesitate to respond back to the original post publicly, expressing your mutual contentment over the resolution and your gratitude for their business. It is always positive for your business to show your community how you take care of your customers.

The last resort. Unfortunately, it sometimes happens that customers are unreceptive to your attempts and can even be hostile or unreasonably argumentative. If this is the case, there is nothing wrong (as a last resort) to ban the individual. It is without saying that this also applies to anybody who uses abusive language or makes racist comments against you or your fans.

Useful link: How to ban someone from your Facebook Page

It is never pleasant to have people complaining about your business, especially when these complaints are made publicly. However, this also gives you an excellent opportunity to turn the situation around to your advantage and win the customer over.  Remember that you are not only dealing with an upset customer, you are also showing your other fans how professional you are and how you care about their concerns. Social media is about being real, transparent and responsive. If you’re committed to delivering excellent customer service on Facebook, then you shouldn’t have to worry.

Have you had any unpleasant experiences on Facebook or other social media platforms? How did you deal with them? Did it work, or not? Please, leave your comments.