A Real Example of How to Handle an Angry Customer Service Complaint on Social Media
We’ve covered how to deal with angry customers. Now let’s see it in action.
In customer service, angry and upset customers are a fact of life. They’re not going away, no matter how good your business is.
People have bad days, and things go wrong. And you’re left to solve the problem.
But I thought it would be helpful (and fun) to see a real example of these concepts in action.
As we all know, in the early days of a startup, product issues do happen, and they happen often. You’re focused on making the product better, but especially at the start with your resources spread thin, this is an uphill climb.
The single best way to compensate for that shortcoming is to offer undeniably excellent customer service.
Proposify’s focus on stellar support is what got them through their early days, including in today’s example.
We’ll look at the juicy details of what happened, and analyze Kyle’s response to see what we can learn about dealing with angry customers on social media.
An Angry Tweet Comes In…
Earlier this year, Proposify, a SaaS company whose product helps people put together super-polished proposals, got a Tweet from a less-than-pleased customer.
The customer certainly had a legitimate complaint, and their frustration caused them to package the complaint in a sarcastic Tweet.
At this point, the Proposify team had a few options:
- Apologize. (Do this no matter what)
- Defend themselves (Don’t do this. It only makes you look bad.)
- Try to resolve the issue.
Here’s what they went with:
Was their response perfect?
Some might not think so.
The “just looking to publicly shame us?” bit could come off as a bit passive-aggressive to some.
But here’s what’s important:
The response included an apology.
The response offered help.
And the response was authentic.
The last point is important; not every company’s tone has to be all smiley faces and sunshine, and you don’t have to be a pushover to deliver great support.
Proposify is a company with a personality, and they weren’t afraid to show it here. The customer’s Tweet was a bit snippy, and Proposify responded in kind.
But it wasn’t a Twitter fight that Kyle and his team wanted.
That’s why immediately after responding, he reached out to the customer directly…
Reaching Out via Email
Kyle sent the customer a note to follow up:
While the execution of the Tweet can be debated, there’s no question that Kyle’s email is excellent on all fronts.
Let’s break it down:
Here, Kyle does something really important: instead of making assumptions about what the customer meant, he asked for clarification. It’s an obvious but underused tactic in a world where many support departments are focusing on first-contact resolution, leading to scrambles to try to answer questions that agents don’t even understand.
And importantly, Kyle offers to help resolve the issue once the question is clarified.
Kyle also stays positive, and compliments the customer’s ideas. Note that he doesn’t necessarily promise to add the feature (a promise we can’t always make right away), but he still gives credit for good suggestions.
… Kyle does a great job in explaining why a particular feature doesn’t work the way the customer wants it to, rather than simply telling the customer that it doesn’t work.
This is important; people respond to story, and sharing how the issue was a struggle for the team likely went a long way in making the customer empathize with the business and be more understanding of the issue.
Next, Kyle apologizes:
Again, notice that while Kyle is eagerly helping the customer solve the issue, his tone firmly makes it clear that the way the customer voiced their concern isn’t the most effective way to get help from Proposify.
This was a very smart, above-and-beyond move. Kyle didn’t need to offer a refund, and the customer never asked for one.
We don't want your money if you're not amazingly happy.
The Fog Creek Promise
The refund is not necessarily because the customer’s issue demands it, but because it demonstrates a commitment to making things right, and to delivering an amazing experience.
It’s a move that shows that Proposify values their long-term relationship with the customer far more than that month’s bill.
Kyle ends by continuing to build rapport with the customer.
We’re a lot less likely to stay angry at people that we know and like, and building rapport is a great way to get your customers to know and like you.
So, What Happened?
Soon after, Kyle got this response:
This response speaks for itself, but it’s truly amazing: the situation was completely diffused, the customer was sold on the resolution, and they even apologized for their initial Tweet.
And a bit later on, the customer even followed up via Twitter:
How Will You Respond to the Next Angry Tweet?
I hope that this example shows you that it’s not that difficult to turn an angry social media complaint into a better relationship with the upset customer.
It all lies in addressing the issue right:
- Reach out
- Be authentic
- Build rapport
- Be clear and genuine in your resolution of the problem
- Go above and beyond
Kudos to Kyle and his team for their handling of this challenging situation.
Have you had to deal with angry customer complaints on social media? Let me know how you handled it (and how it went) in the comments!