How To Handle Difficult Customers On Social Media

how to handle difficult customers on social media

Welcome to the fast-paced world of social media, where hashtags trend, memes go viral, and conversations never sleep. It's a digital realm that has transformed the way we connect, communicate, and, yes, even complain for that matter.  In this article we discuss how to handle difficult customers on social media.

Imagine: You're sipping your morning coffee, scrolling through your company's social media feeds, and there it is—an angry customer venting their frustrations for the world to see. Your heart skips a beat, and a mix of anxiety and determination sets in. 

How do you respond? How do you turn this potentially disastrous situation into an opportunity for growth and customer satisfaction?

Fear not, intrepid reader! No matter how frustrating and difficult clients can be, you can turn them in your favor with the right social media response strategy. It's your call to convert these angry, disgruntled customers into loyal fans.

But first things first! Why should you even care about handling difficult customers on social media? Well, let's face it—social media is no longer just a platform for cute cat videos and sharing photos of mouthwatering food. It's a vibrant marketplace where customer complaints can go viral in minutes, potentially causing irreversible damage to your brand's reputation.

With  67% of customers contacting customer service through social media, the clock is ticking! It's not just about resolving the issue at hand; it's about doing so in record time.

But fear not. Throughout this blog, we’ll explore the different types of difficult customers you're likely to encounter so that you can navigate these treacherous waters and emerge as a customer service superhero. We'll arm you with battle-tested strategies, insider tips, and real-life examples to tackle even the most challenging customer encounters, showcase exceptional customer service, build trust, and create loyal brand advocates.

Understanding The Different Types Of Difficult Customers

Handling difficult customers is an inevitable part of any business, and it becomes even more challenging in the realm of social media. This is why it's essential to know about the different types of demanding customers you may encounter and explore practical strategies for managing them. By understanding their behaviors and motivations, you can tailor your approach to achieve optimal results and maintain your brand's reputation. Let's explore some of them: 

  • The Frustrated Ranters: These customers vent their frustrations publicly, often using strong language and expressing disappointment.
  • The High Expectation Holders: These customers demand immediate resolutions to complex issues and have exceptionally high expectations.
  • The Trolls: These individuals seek to provoke and create chaos through inflammatory comments, often with no real intention of resolving their concerns.
  • The Misinformed: Customers who have misunderstood or lack accurate information about your product or service, leading to misguided complaints.

Remember, with the perfect strategy; you can turn these problematic customers into advocates. That's what's our premise today. Let's look at 6 effective strategies to help you handle demanding customers on social media and turn challenging situations into opportunities, solidifying your brand's reputation.

Strategies For Handling Difficult Customers On Social Media

Step 1: Apologize And Stay Calm

The Situation: The first step obviously starts with an apology, and there is no doubt about it! Remember, you are here for the business and must compromise even when it's not your fault. The key to having a clear head is to accept the problem, apologize, and handle it with composure. Lo Marino from Boomerang said, “Nearly every customer calms down when you shoulder some of the blame.”

Customers can get particularly angry after they have had an awful experience with your product/service. They will vent their frustrations on you. Maybe they had a series of problems with your product/service, or you let them down. It's your call to understand that during these trying times and not take these personally. 

How To: Before reacting, take a moment to process the situation and plan your course of action. Keep your composure and empathize with them. Be specific about how you plan to solve the issue and engage them. Validate their feelings, and there you win half the battle. This can help disarm even the angriest of customers and help diffuse the situation.

Example: Observe how Mediacom Cable handles their dissatisfied customer on Twitter simply by apologizing. See how they have acknowledged their issue, apologized, and headed toward their solution. 

how to handle difficult customers on social media 2

Source: Twitter 

Step 2: Dont Argue And Acknowledge Their Concerns 

The Situation: Winning an argument online is equivalent to losing it! Customers do not take it right when a brand doesn't acknowledge their problems and then argues about it, especially the angry ones. The situation just gets worse.

It's essential to remain composed and professional, no matter how challenging the customer's behavior. Angry customers prefer solutions over arguments. Not giving them that makes them particularly difficult. Besides, in this digital spectrum, one negative tweet can have a huge blow to your brand’s reputation. 

How To: Arguing with your angry customers won't do anything good for your brand. Instead, take a moment to acknowledge how your customer feels and leverage this opportunity to get in their good books. In fact, according to Khoros, 83% of customers agree that they feel more loyal to brands that respond to and resolve their complaints. 

Be transparent about the cause, as there is no place for “ I don't know,” “ I can't,” and blame-shifting in the customer support dictionary. 

Example: The image below illustrates how Pottery Barn handles difficult customers on socials. This particular customer appears quite fused out, but the brand didn't indulge in any argument. Instead, they acknowledged her concern. 

How To Handle Difficult Customers On Social Media

Source: Twitter 

Step 3: Act Quickly And Offer Them Solutions 

The Situation: It's simple. The longer they wait, the angrier they get! So, time is kind of a deal in this industry. 

Besides, 40% of consumers expect brands to respond within the first hour of reaching out on social media, while 76% expect a response in the first 24 hours. So the average spending time on social media increases, as does the expected brand response time. 

As the average daily time on social media rises yearly, so does the expected response time through social media channels. Buts that's not all! By responding timely, you have to offer speedy solutions as well. 

Give your customers assurance that you will handle the issue, regardless of whose fault it is, and become the “one-stop solution” for all their concerns. That's the only way out from the wrath of your difficult customers! 

How To: When a customer complains, you must check it and ensure it's solved. Quickly responding to them will not only show your priority toward them but also turn the most dissatisfied customer in your favor. For this, you must leverage the best social media automation tools to monitor your brand mentions and reviews and auto-pilot repetitive tasks in just a few clicks. Once you are aware of your customer's concerns, offer them solutions. More than one, preferably! 

Ask them if they would like to propose anything and what would be more acceptable. And keep your brand guidelines in mind during the entire process. Ensure what you can promise and do and what you cannot! 

Example: Wemo Cares is making it up to customers by responding at a jet speed, offering solutions, and confirming their issues. 

3 How To Handle Difficult Customers On Social Media

Source: Twitter 

Step 4: Talk Like A Person, Humanize The Interaction

The Situation: What’s worse than not responding to your customers is to reply with a canned corporate response. In fact, despite the availability of automated response solutions, 36% of consumers prefer to wait to interact with an actual human representative when seeking customer service. 

So it's clear the more human, the more personal you get, the more it's easier for you to handle difficult customers. Once they realize the human aspect of your brand voice, it can help diffuse some of the anger your customer is feeling and assure them that someone is listening. 

Remember, customers are generally very skeptical about interacting with chatbots. They don't want to avoid getting involved in the loop of automated responses. Ensure to put someone capable from your customer service team so your customers don't feel they are talking to a faceless company. The key is humanizing the interaction as much as possible and eliminating corporate jargon.

How To: The first step is cultivating empathy and taking responsibility for the situation. An apology in a friendly and interactive tone is bound to influence no matter how distressed or frustrated your customers might feel. Besides, the icing on the cake would be to include your actual photo and move the conversation to a different channel for more personalization. 

Example: Check out how Zappos replies to this customer. It's human; it's fun and addressing the issue simultaneously. You can bet this distressed one will be back! 

How To Handle Difficult Customers On Social Media

Source: Twitter 

Step 5: Resolve, Follow Up, And Improve 

The Situation: After it's resolved, follow-up is customary! You have to do this to let your customers know that you care about them even after the issue has been addressed. It's like keeping in touch to foster a loyal community of brand advocates. In fact, 67% of customer service teams proactively contact their clients after an issue is resolved. 

This lets the customer know that you are checking in for aftercare. A genuine follow-up from your end can soften up your customer's anger and change their perception of you. Besides, negative publicity isn't always bad! A lot can be learned and improved if you consider your customer's worthwhile ideas.

With this feedback, you can turn around lost sales, attract new members, and boost customer retention. 

How To: Keep a list of these angry customers, who faced what issues, and their severity. Depending on how grave the problem was, keep their numbers or email addresses and contact them after a specific period to know the status of the product/service and whether they are happy with the solution. 

Besides, do a comprehensive analysis of the issues, especially the repetitive ones, and ensure that it's not repeated. Train your staff for better customer handling and leverage social media analytics tools to track your brand sentiment and customer satisfaction and identify patterns in your brand's performance. 

Example: Below is an example of how Delta Air Lines is completely nailing at handling difficult customers through their regular follow-ups. 

How To Handle Difficult Customers On Social Media

Source: Twitter 

Parting Words

Handling difficult customers is part and parcel of running a business. It shouldn't be seen as something negative but a positive way to sharpen your customer experience management skills. 

Besides, with 61% of customers turning to a competitor after just one bad experience, it's your caliber to maintain composure and prioritize their issues to handle demanding customers in any situation.

Remember, social media is a powerful tool that amplifies both positive and negative experiences. The way you handle these angry customers on these platforms can make a lasting impact on your brand's reputation and customer loyalty. These strategies not only diffuse tension but also foster a more constructive dialogue, enabling you to find resolutions that satisfy both parties.

Now, armed with these insights and strategies, it's time to navigate these challenges, view them as opportunities for growth, and turn them into triumphs that will benefit your business for years to come.

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