Handling Social Media Complaints

By July 6, 2016 February 26th, 2017 Stories

Managing an organisations’ social media? Then you need to learn how you should be handling social media complaints to ensure you don’t end up having to handle a crisis!

In this blog, we take a look at some practical tips to get your social media customer service strategy in place ensuring that you are handling social media complaints with perfection.

Some people joke that I do nothing but complain on Twitter. Whilst that isn’t entirely true, I do use it for customer services purposes when I have an issue and considering I do most of my shopping online it can sometimes mean that I’m venting my frustration a little more often than most.

From my home shopping delivery not arriving on time to my new shoes having a fault, my first port of call, especially if an organisations customer service process is not straightforward, is Twitter.

Reassuringly, it appears that I am not in a minority. If you were watching BBC Breakfast this morning you would have seen Steph McGovern discussing research released by GoCompare indicating that UK companies have paid out nearly £140m in refunds and goodwill gifts to social media complainers in the last 12 months and that a whopping 33% of the population (16 million people) are using social media to do so.

So why is it happening?

Ultimately, most people now live their lives on social media and actively follow the brands and retailers they purchase from. The increasing use of smart phones also makes using social media to complain a simpler process, especially when you compare that to hunting around a website for contact details.

People want an instantaneous response to their issues. Gone are the days when people will write in (unless in the case of a very serious complaint), send an email or phone a customer service number only to be placed on hold for a usually lengthy period of time and having to listen to some ear bleeding inducing music and it potentially costing them money.

Social Media eradicates all of that and in most cases if handled well, the speed of response will seem immediate to the person making the complaint as they can go about their daily business whilst the company receives and reviews their complaint, before they are alerted to a response which they can pick up on immediately.

What does a business need to consider?

First and foremost, if you are a business and you provide services or products and something doesn’t go as planned you are likely to be in the firing line on social media whether or not you use it for your business. Just because you don’t have a Twitter handle or Facebook page that someone would tag you in on doesn’t mean you won’t get slandered on social!

As a start, if you don’t have social media platforms for your business they are worth setting up for many reasons, but consider your audience and the platforms they are likely to use and start from there.

If you do get a complaint on social media…

DO NOT go into attack mode! This is the number one issue to consider when handling social media complaints. Reacting with an attack could damage your reputation and potentially your business! Stay calm and gather the facts and respond to their issue. If it is a simple issue it will work in your favour for viewers of your social media profiles to see how you deal with issues and turning around the hostility of the complainer.

If necessary, try take the conversation away from public view by asking if they can Direct Message you with further information i.e. order numbers and an overview of the issue.

Customers want to be listened to, have their issue resolved and more importantly quickly. If you can do that, you have them on side and hopefully as a future advocate for exceptional customer service delivered by your business.

We’ve seen an issue turn around many times to the point the person originally complaining is praising the organisation and it has a huge positive impact on other potential customers who may be considering purchasing from you.

Reassurance that things will get resolved if something goes wrong is one of the biggest influences on purchase decisions!

Don’t ignore it! The worst thing you can do is ignore an issue as it can manifest into something much larger.

Don’t delete! It may feel extremely uncomfortable having a negative review on your social media profiles. However, your response will mitigate the complaint by showcasing to your audience that if something goes wrong you will do your damnedest to resolve it.

Deleting often indicates you have something to hide. But in most instances if an issue is resolved swiftly it might be the person who made the complaint takes it upon themselves to remove – win / win!


There’s some fantastic examples of social media customer service done well so it’s worth having a look to see how different organisations handle issues so you can refer to in your own social media strategy.

I have personally dealt with @asos_heretohelp, @asdaserviceteam (even if I’ve tagged the standard ASOS and ASDA handles in my tweet), and @RBSBusiness. The latter’s social media support is a million miles better than their call centres!

Similarly, there are bad examples too and this one is a great example of what happens when you take the complaint personally and go into attack mode.

More recently, we had to update this blog post with a local example of badly handling social media complaints from Huddersfield based Vegan cafe, Goat Cafe. Have a read… we’d love to hear your thoughts!

It’s not all bad!

To sign off, it’s not all doom and gloom, a whopping 42% have taken to social media to express gratitude for exceptional customer service (in some cases after an issue) or when a product has exceeded expectations. Endorsement is quite possibly the best form of marketing your brand or business could receive (don’t forget you can retweet those comments)!

If however, you’re finding that you are struggling to stay on top of your social media then get in touch and we can discuss the best strategy for your business.


The Guardian – Customer complaints made via social media on the rise https://www.theguardian.com/media-network/2015/may/21/customer-complaints-social-media-rise

GoCompare – Millions of UK consumers get satisfaction by complaining on social media http://www.gocompare.com/press-office/2016/social-media-complaints/