What’s the Best Way to Approach an Angry Consumer?
What’s the best way to approach an angry consumer?
A decade ago, companies had more choices about how to handle angry customers. Perhaps it was through an apology letter or an envelope stuffed with coupons. Maybe some firms chose not to deal with angry customers at all. But the times they are a-changing. Today a maddened customer can tweet or blog their discontent to anyone with an Internet connection, making social media monitoring a must for any company. Here are four strategies for approaching the angry, the irate, and the just plain mad.
- Take time to respond – Don’t let an angry customer hang in cyberspace. According to Inc.’s “The Four R’s of Customer Feedback,” even if a customer is making negative comments, an important component of social engagement is to send a response. It can be as simple as thanking him or her for the comment.
- Breathe deeply– When you’ve invested years of company resources into a product, any criticism—whether it’s deserved or not—can trigger a fury of angry typing. Remember, there is no “un-send” button on your computer or cell phone. Make sure any team members who answer online customer complaints understand that as well. Plan reasoned, polite, and professional responses, even if the customer has pronounced you “THE DEVIL’S SPAWN.”
- Let it flow – When Whole Foods CEO John Mackey wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, he became the subject of spirited online criticism. However, he didn’t react by turning off the comment features on his blogs posts. Instead, he chose to engage consumers—more than 3,000 of them—by encouraging their feedback.
- Keep things in perspective – At times customers can clue us into a must-solve problem. Other times, however, the complaint comes from a lone voice with an unfounded gripe or unreasonable request. Evaluating the worth of complaints and the learning to listen to the right ones will help you manage the brand more efficiently.
User-generated content makes it much harder to control the message—especially if it’s coming from an angry, venting consumer. However, you can control how you’ll answer the criticism and move your brand forward in a positive way.