Question: What's your top tip for dealing with an angry client or customer online?
Question by: Ashley
Switch the Medium
"If you're confronted with a nasty blog post, email or forum post about your company, try to engage with that customer on the phone. Most people would never say the things they write online (especially when they feel they've been taken advantage of). By switching communication mediums and proactively calling the customer, you can defuse a situation much easier than doing so online."
Don't Engage Online
"It's so tempting to want to acknowledge, better understand or fix a complaint online. While you certainly want to address the issue for the customer -- so that the complaint is a footnote rather than a recurring theme in your online profile -- you don't exhibit professionalism when you handle your business in an online chat forum. Get the customer's contact info, then take it offline."
A Second First Impression
"You don't want a customer's anger to be their most recent impression of your company. By going the extra mile -- offering them a free product, calling them to check in or sending them a gift in the mail -- you'll help shift their frustration into satisfaction."
From Angry to Advocate
"Many times, your angriest client can become your best advocate. Chances are good that you can make them happier then they were before their problem. Angry clients need help, and you need to give it to them to make them happy. You may have to invest some more money or time, but the payoff will be worth it for you in the long term."
Kill Them With Kindness
"Whenever possible, do absolutely everything you can to go out of your way -- above and beyond -- to make the angry client happy. The worst thing you can do is ignore a client's complaint. Seek to understand why they're unhappy and do everything you can to make it right."
Honesty Travels Far
"People know when you're saying a few prepared sentences to get them to relax. Determine what the client/customer is upset about, reading between the lines if you must, then have an honest conversation about how you will remedy it. Doing this out in the open on your social networks can show the character of your company, and if the person is being irrational, your community will recognize it."
Go With Your Gut
"When a customer complains online, sometimes they just want something for free. Would they say that same online comment to your face? Most likely, they won't. Find out what the problem is and if they just want something for free, then "fire" them. If you bend over backwards for one customer like that, then more will expect it, causing you to lose time and money."
Address It ASAP
"In today’s online world, it’s important to address issues before they get out of hand. Respond to the negative comment with a resolution or offer to speak with the customer offline. If it’s unfounded, perhaps turn to your company blog or social media platforms to explain the situation to current customers so they don’t think you’ve ignored it completely."
"You will upset customers. The worst thing to do is to sweep it under a rug by deleting their complaint online or simply ignoring it. Take ownership for their disappointment, then do everything you can to resolve their issue. Do this publicly so that other customers know that you have a culture of excellence."
Are You Sorry?
"Too often, those words are never said. If you simply start your conversation with "I'm sorry," you might find that's all someone is seeking. We often want to say, "I'm sorry but..." and everything after this phrase is all the customer hears. Instead, tell them that you're sorry and listen to their issue."
Meet the Demands
"If your customer is furious and wants a refund, give it to them. If they want to exchange a product, let them. If they want to talk to your boss, hand over the phone. Any minor inconvenience or money lost will pay for itself tenfold over the life of the customer when your good service turns them into someone who is raving about your business."
"This might sound contrarian, but often, it's the right thing to do, especially if you've followed all the other great advice in this article. Of course, refund their money if that's an issue, and wish them the best. Just remember, you can't service everyone and it's best to focus your energy on clients and customers who are the right fit and alignment for your business."
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, the YEC recently launched #StartupLab, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content library and email lessons.