Can you pacify the angry customer in social media?

I often hear and read discussions about the tone in social media and about companies that are scared of engaging on social platforms, because they are nervous about what will happen if somebody writes something negative. There is no doubt about it: social media is the weapon of choice, when customers want to complain. Especially Facebook is big. There is a new generation of consumers who realize that complaining does work….

Should we be scared of the new channels of complaint? Or should we face the music and see where it takes us? I think companies need to face the music, because they can benefit more from some negative publicity than from not being a part of social media.

Can you prevent all attacks? Probably not. But you can prevent some – and even turn some attacks to your advantage by following a few simple guidelines:

Accept that not everything written about your company in social media will be positive – and that you will not be able to turn all disappointed customers around (but always try!).
Listen constantly. You have to know what is being said about your company – at all times.
When you screw up, admit it!
Empathy matters more than apology. If a customer complains e.g. in a Facebook feed, don’t just apologize. Empathize. Let the customer know you understand his or her feelings.
Focus on the customers: their needs and their opinions – they are the reason your company is running!
And always use a proper and friendly tone of voice. No matter how heated the discussion might be and how annoying the customer is, make sure your language is always signaling that you are the customer’s allied.

At the end of the day, what matters is that you give your customers the attention they ask for. Great customer service can often make even the grumpiest customer happy.