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Don’t Let The Complaint Go Viral!

We’ve all seen our fair share of mishaps that have gone viral. There was the Domino’s Pizza scandal, in which employees of Domino’s recorded themselves performing lewd acts to customers’ food and then posted it to YouTube. There was also the United Airlines incident, in which a disgruntled passenger was ignored after multiple complaints he left with the airlines, so he created United Breaks Guitars and posted it to YouTube.

When the information is good, companies want it to go viral. When the news is bad, they want to keep the information from spreading. So how do you keep a customer complaint from going viral?

Unfortunately, there’s no “STOP” button that you can press to keep a complaint from being seen by a large audience, but there are steps you can take to keep the complaint from getting worse.

Respond immediately.

When a complaint comes in to your business, no matter how small it may seem to you, you need to respond. Break out your most sincere apology and give it to the customer, and make sure that you respond in the same manner as their complaint. For example, if a customer complains over the phone, call them back and tell them you’re sorry. If they complain on your Facebook page, use Facebook to apologize. Not only does this help rectify the situation, but it also shows others that you’re taking the necessary steps to right a wrong.

Give them your detailed plan.

Tell the customer just how you plan on fixing the situation. When they see that you have a solution, they’ll know that you actually put some thought into their issue. This will go one step further than simply apologizing, and it shows your customers that you care enough to truly give attention to their issues.


Take responsibility.

Never try and pass the problem off on someone else—always take responsibility. For example, if you’re a thriving restaurant with a large patio that’s usually open, but you closed it one night when there were bad storms, forcing your customers to wait a bit longer for an inside table, don’t blame the weather. Instead, take full responsibility by telling your customer that you should have planned better and found extra seating inside to make up for the lost outdoor seating. Taking full responsibility shows that you’re not afraid to try and right your wrongs.

Take action.

Once you have corrected the situation, you need to reach back out to the customer and let them know. For example, if a customer complained about your bathrooms being out of toilet paper, make sure that you always check to make sure the bathrooms are well stocked and that an employee is checking the stalls on a regular basis to ensure they’re constantly full. Then, make sure to tell the customer about your new plan to ensure you’re always stocked full of TP.

You can’t guarantee that a customer complaint won’t go viral, but if you use these tips, you can make it less likely. Who wants to share a complaint that has the company’s respectful and sincere response right underneath it? If anything, that viral message will do more good for your business than harm.

Joshua Reynolds is a review tracking and online review management expert.  He recently wrote about how to properly and effectively respond to negative reviews.

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