No matter how well-oiled a machine your small business is, there are going to times when customers just aren't satisfied with the products or services they've received. Regardless of who's at fault, dissatisfied customers can threaten your bottom line through negative word-of-mouth reviews that reach a wide audience through social media platforms.
What's a small business to do when a former customer is bad-mouthing it in a public forum in front of other prospective clients? While this is certainly a delicate situation, leaving customers to rant on social media may be an even bigger mistake.
To engage or not to engage
It's a new small business' worst nightmare: Only days after opening, negative reviews start pouring into online rating sites. You know that many of your prospective clients will probably look your new business up on the Internet before trying you out, so how can you handle negative comments online in a positive way?
Though you might be tempted to ignore criticism posted onto the Internet, not responding to or even deleting these messages could show your customers that you either don't care enough about them to deal with the complaints or aren't competent enough to check social media pages. Even if you can't resolve the situation at the moment, simply acknowledging that you're aware of the problem and are working on finding a solution – and posting this all in a visible message – can be enough to show that your business cares about its customers.
Don't air dirty laundry
If a customer complains about a minor problem on social media, it probably won't hurt your brand that much to deal with this in full view of the public eye. However, in cases where someone at your company made a grievous or particularly embarrassing mistake, airing your dirty laundry on social media will most likely make you look incompetent instead of transparent.
If a customer posts about a major issue, make sure you acknowledge the post so others know you're aware of the problem. However, try to redirect the conversation away from social media and to a private channel – this will allow you to handle the matter in a more professional manner and save both company and client from further embarrassment.
Social media can be a double-edged sword, but handling the difficult clients can demonstrate to the easy ones that your small business is worth working with.