No. 12 - Social media marketing - creating a social media policy for customer complaints

Dealing with customer complaints on social media
on Tue 22 Sep


Even today there is still nervousness in some quarters about raising your profile on social media in case you get complaints. I think what may be forgotten is that if you’re not on social media people may still be complaining about you but you lack the opportunity to deal with them and de-escalate the situation. So the savvy thing to do is to create a social media policy for customer complaints as part of your social media marketing


I know this is high in mind for a lot of small businesses, over 1,000 people have read this post


In terms of putting together a social media policy the best place to start is with a positioning statement so you can manage the expectations of your fans, followers, customers and clients.


Positioning Statement


This may lay out the hours in which the office is open and can respond to complaints, it might apologise for not being able to do this at evenings or weekends.


It would be a good idea to explain that, whilst you may want everyone to enjoy social media , you reserve the right to reject messages or comments that could be construed as inappropriate, abusive, inflammatory, embarrassing, sexist, discriminatory…and anything else you would like to specifically highlight.


The words “could be construed” (or could be taken as) are key as this prevents a ping pong discussion accusing you of reacting to something that the poster deemed was actually not in the least inappropriate.  “Could” allows it to be your decision and not open to other’s interpretation.


Routes of Complaint

Try to reduce the possibility of complaints being posted on social media in the first place by clear advice on your website as to the best ways in which customers can air grievances - this might be a dedicated e-mail address or phone number or online form.


Make sure you have an agreed timescale in which to respond to these grievances or unhappy customers will take to social media out of sheer frustration of getting no reaction from you.


Turn a negative into a positive

Sometimes complaints are justified and in that case it is good to hold your hand up publicly and to then correct whatever caused the problem in the first place.


When complaints aren’t justified you might be surprised to see other customers coming to your defence and dealing with the person that complained on your behalf. I’m sure you’ve seen this on websites like TripAdvisor.


A RightNow survey showed that 50% of those who had received a response to their complaint were pleased with how it had been handled and nearly half of those then posted positively about the organisation.


There are tools out there which can help you work smarter in terms of tracking customer comments and responding to them – this helpful article explains



Think about how you would react if face to face with the customer. You would not get into a slanging match which would escalate the problem - so be mindful of this on social media and think before you type.


The key is respond in a friendly, empathetic and professional manner. Use phrases like “I’m sorry you’re having a problem” or “I’m sorry you had a bad experience”


Do not use corporate speak like “We have taken note of your complaint” and then do nothing!


Take it offline

Don’t publicly play out dealing with a complaint with for any longer than you need to.


You should either offer an e-mail address or phone number where they can phone you OR send them a private message asking for their e-mail or phone number.


Make sure the contact details you give relate to the best person to answer their specific complaint.  Giving them the run round to actually get to the person they need to speak to is not going to be at all helpful to your reputation…


Contrary to some concerns, social media can be a brilliant conduit to have direct engagement with customers and gives you the opportunity to inspire confidence in your customer service and show you are a company with nothing to hide.


It may also sharpen up your act a bit in terms of good customer service ;-)


If you would like any further advice or support in terms of social media check out my website just here 



Get in touch