Gone are the days when a customer would ring you to complain about faulty goods or poor service, instead now with the popularity of social media, people feel freer to express their grievances online.

For all that we hate to get negative feedback, this is actually a good thing. If people are more open about their experience with your company it gives you a chance to make real changes to benefit your customers.

Prior to facebook and twitter, the vast majority of upset customers would probably just leave your store and never come back again, but they’d definitely talk to their friends and family about their experience. THIS is the most dangerous outcome, you have just lost business not only from the original customer, but their circle too. And if anyone from their circle shares it again…. Well, you can see how this could affect sales. The troubling part is that you may be blissfully unaware of what’s happening and have no chance to stem the flow of bad press.

So, when you see a bad comment on your facebook page, thank them.

Thank them for bringing the matter to your attention and express that you are committed to finding a solution to their problem. If it is a simple matter to keep them happy, resolve it out in public on the page, this gives any observers a chance to see how agreeable and accommodating you are. If it is a more complex issue, warmly invite them to start a private conversation or to call in and see you.

Act fast, your online customer expects near instant communication and you may be able to resolve it happily before too many other customers see it.

There will be times you are unable to resolve the matter, be fair, keep it to a private conversation if possible, but if your customer insists fighting it out on the page, just repeat kindly, clearly and concisely what you can and cannot do. This gives other spectators an understanding of the situation and should not hurt you in the long run as long as you are fair and fulfilling your duties under the consumer act.

As painful as it is dealing with complaints, you must encourage your customers to share their experiences with you. A customer who feels they are listened to and have been taken seriously is a happy customer.

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