How to Complain on Social Media

As a community manager for several national (& international) restaurant brands that total over 300 locations, I read guest complaints on a daily basis. Most come through a Facebook wall post, sometimes they send us a private message through Facebook. A little less often it comes though Twitter. I make a point to respond to all relatively reasonable complaints, no matter how negative it may be and I do not hide most of them because we believe in transparency (the ones that are hidden typically have curse words or are extremely aggressive or threatening). Please note I do NOT delete these complaints and even when they are hidden, I still respond to the guest and try to recover them. As I’ll explain in a separate post, keeping current guests can be more valuable at times than trying to create new ones.

399411075_7105267dc5In my daily review of complaints though, I get flustered at how inept some guests are in their complaining. To clarify – I think social media offers a wonderful opportunity to interact with a brand and as customers, we all have the right to lodge complaints in regards to bad products, bad service, etc. In fact, I see complaints as opportunities for us as a brand to shine in regards to how we respond to the complaint, even an opportunity to make that upset guest and advocate for us if we do the right thing. But with that right (or power if you want to take it that far),  comes some responsibility. In fact, I believe there is a right way and a wrong way to file a complaint via social media channels.

So I’ve compiled  list of do’s and don’ts based on my personal experience. If you follow these basic guidelines when complaining about a brand via social media, your issue will most likely be resolved faster and the brand will be more willing to follow through with a resolution:

DON’T

– Do not be rude and abusive.

– Do not use curse words. I hide comments that get abusive in the language and tone.

– Do not expect immediate responses after hours, on the weekends and on holidays, especially from smaller brands or local businesses.

– Do not get overly emotional.

– Do not forget that there is a human being on the other end reading your comment. I was not the one who gave you bad service but I am here to help.

DO

– Do include details. “You suck” is not something I can do anything with.

– Do include the location (including state) if it involves a physical business. Be specific. I can’t read your mind nor am I tracking you via GPS and we may have more than one location in larger cities.

– Do check back & respond if the company asks for more info. I really want to help but can’t if you don’t get back to me with contact information.

– Do give me details if you have tried to contact us via other formats (i.e. by calling our guest hotline or filling out a form). For example, indicate exactly what number you called, what website you visited. It helps me track down your original complaint.

– Do write in complete sentences and check your spelling & grammar.

– Do consider the severity of your complaint in the grand scheme of things and temper your anger to suit it. i.e. Did we simply put the wrong cheese on your burger or were you sick all weekend after eating with us? The latter issue is obviously a much bigger and more urgent problem than the former.

– Do be patient and give the brand a reasonable time to respond. Smaller brands are not monitoring their social media every day, 24-7. It may take us up to a day to respond and we aren’t necessarily going to respond on a weekend if it is not an urgent issue.

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Example of a bad complaint:

“Your napkins stink.”

Example of a good complaint:

“The napkins at your Chicago location on S. Michigan have a weird smell.”

Example of a bad complaint:

“I got sick after eating at your restaurant.”

Example of a good complaint:

“I ate at your Lubbock location on Sunday and had a hamburger. It didn’t sit well with me and I think it made me sick.”

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I could go on and on but let’s not make this a novel… 🙂

Any tips you may want to add? What experiences have you had in regards to customer service via social media? Have you posted a complaint and if so, has the company responded and maybe even resolved your issue?