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How to handle customer feedback on social media

If someone posts a complaint on your business’s Facebook page or Twitter feed, how best to respond? Would you a) delete or ignore it b) discuss a possible resolution via comments on their post or c) thank them and make contact privately?

Here’s how to turn feedback — good or bad — into an opportunity.

By Ashlee Keown, Warehouse Stationery's Digital and Direct Communications Manager

Complaints, questions or compliments posted on your business’s social media pages offer a chance to make a positive impact on what current and prospective customers think of your business. Quickly resolving a complaint, for example, can build credibility and goodwill amongst your followers.

1. Plan ahead

Assign one person to manage social media feedback. Ideally, they will have customer service experience.

Prepare a plan. This could be a simple decision tree that covers:

  • types of comment
  • how to respond to each type, eg “Thanks so much for your compliment”
  • how quickly to respond to each type, eg within 30 minutes for a complaint
  • when to involve someone more senior or with detailed product knowledge, eg a question that can’t be answered readily
  • how to proceed in certain situations, eg notify X of a complaint about Y and find a solution together. 

To help develop this plan, think about how your business handles customer complaints on email, by phone or in person. Remember, social media is a public forum and conversations remain visible, so extra-special care is required when responding.

2. Keep across it

To be able to respond quickly, monitor your social media pages constantly. This doesn’t mean someone watching them 24/7. Your social media person should check work accounts as often as possible, and set up alerts to be notified immediately when someone posts a comment.

Social media platforms offer this alert function, but only for activity on that platform. Tools such as Hootsuite enable monitoring across different platforms. 

3. Review carefully

Each comment should be read thoroughly. Some may be inappropriate and should be deleted, eg abusive or racist, or a product promotion. Set out the types of comments that will get deleted in the ‘profile’ or ‘about’ sections of your page. 

Don’t delete negative comments out of hand. A business page with absolutely no complaints can raise suspicions.

Don’t delete negative comments out of hand. A business page with absolutely no complaints can raise suspicions.

A page where customer complaints have clearly been resolved can build trust.  

4. Respond quickly

Generally, the faster a business responds to comments the better. So if someone puts up a compliment, sincerely thank them for it as soon as you can.

Similarly, if they make a genuine complaint, respond quickly with thanks, an apology and a promise to make things right. Be open, polite and professional, not cold or defensive. Their complaint is a sign they value your product or service.

It’s important then to move the conversation onto a private channel —eg Facebook Messenger, email or phone — so you can get to grips with the problem without discussing every detail in public. Then do all you can to solve the problem.

Once the issue is resolved, go back to the original comment and ask the person publicly if they are satisfied. This shows your customer and others that you made good on your promise, and that you value them.

5. Learn and improve

Feedback on social media offers valuable information about your business. It’s also a chance to test and enhance the way you handle complaints and queries. 

Whether positive or negative, use feedback to improve your customer service and your business as a whole.

Whether positive or negative, use feedback to improve your customer service and your business as a whole.

About this article

This article is by one of business.govt.nz's private sector partners — we work with subject matter experts in the public and private sectors to get best practice advice for small businesses.

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