Complaints are inevitable when you provide products or services to customers, because there is simply no such thing as 100% satisfaction across your entire market. There will always be customers with expectations which you cannot meet, or those who will misunderstand your offerings completely. It is because of this that customer service is a crucial part of any business, and that, in turn, is why customer care call centers are now so common.

But with the boom of social media, handling unsatisfied customers has proven to be a rather big challenge. A few taps and clicks can change the perception of hundreds to thousands of people, and it is every marketing person’s nightmare to be the center of a complaint posted on social media.

Though there is very little you can do about a customer’s posted complaint once it is made public, there are, however, many ways of handling the problem. There even lies the possibility of turning the situation around. So, what are some ways you can serve irate or unsatisfied customers?

1. Apologize for the mistake

Let’s admit it: apologizing and swallowing your pride are two very underrated and underappreciated actions. The more natural response to a complaint would be to get defensive, but that would only lead to fighting fire with fire.

When a person is enraged and unsatisfied, the best way to start off your end of the conversation is to say, “Sorry.”

2. Address the customer right away – publicly

In such situations, the worst thing you can do for your business is to let the situation drag on. Ignoring a person’s negative feedback could only cause more anger to build up, or worse, it could make everyone think that you do not care at all. Remember that social media could work for you too, so do not be afraid to respond to complaints, especially if the mistakes can still be rectified.

Start by showing your customer that you are giving appropriate attention to his or her concern, and that you are publicly taking responsibility for his or her dissatisfaction. Make it clear that you wish to correct the situation.

3.  Offer a precise solution

Without overpromising, try to be clear about the next step. Especially if the solution might require further expenses on the company, or if you (as an administrator of social media accounts) do not have the authority to promise customers whatever they want, be open and transparent about how the situation will proceed.

4.  Offer a re-do or a replacement, along with additional benefits, when possible.

More often than not, the customers simply want to get the best out of what they paid for. If they were not satisfied with your product or service, what you can do is offer them a re-do or a replacement.

If it was a service, assure them that you will be putting them in the hands of your best staff members, who will be doing their best to provide high-quality service. If it was a product, ensure that you will do everything in your power to provide their money’s worth.

5. Take the conversation offline

Although it would be advantageous to show other potential clients how good you are at customer service, try not to discuss the details of your problem and solution in public. It would be best if a representative of your company offered to meet the customer to discuss the issue further. In cases when that would be too much to ask, a management-level representative may also just call the client and present ways by which you can make up for the mistake.

Just remember that, to an irate client, seeing an actual face, or experiencing the actual presence of a company representative will do wonders in letting them know you care.

In the end, the customer is truly king. For as long as their complaints are within reason, and are actually constructive enough for the company to recognize some areas for improvement, there is no reason why negative feedback should be ignored. A simple apology and some effort to make up for a mistake or misunderstanding could go a very long way, and could even develop some good will between clients and your company.

This post was contrbuted by Sheine Austria. Sheine is a professional writer whose passion is digital media, technology and blogging. She also used to do some photography in her college days. Sheine is also a single mother and decided to transfer to California and discover her future there.

Guest Contributor
SocialHospitality.com publishes guest posts from entrepreneurs, small business owners, and business writers. To learn more about how to become a guest writer, visit our guest post guidelines.