Paolo Fabrizio
July 21, 2015

Are You Ready to Handle Social Customer Service Rants?

We’re currently having a very hot summer in Italy. Many people are complaining about it but, even if temperature became cooler, I’m sure that some of them would simply switch to another topic.

Like it or not, some people just like complaining.

However, when it comes to social customer service, you have to deal effectively also with difficult customers…

How to detect serial complainers

You may easily tell ‘serial complainers’ from dissatisfied customers because the former tend to emphasize only negative aspects regardless the efforts to counter any situation; consequently it’s pretty hard for brands to get them satisfied. Let me give you an example about each category:

  • The dissatisfied customer [real story]: a friend of mine just posted on Facebook her experience; she was upset because her train was delayed 35 minutes. but at the same time she also appreciated that she was promptly given via SMS the option whether to get reimbursed or to book another ride for free. 
  • The serial complainer: imagine the same situation; he/she would only tell you about the train delay adding a vast array of negative implications for him/her. End of the story.

As customer service implies dealing on a daily basis with different customers’ personalities, be ready to handle also serial complainers especially via social networks.

Get your Social Customer Service staff ’emotionally trained’

Emotionally trained

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Make sure that all your staff dealing with customers via social networks be properly trained. That means they need to be emotionally ready to respond properly to rude behavior, instead of taking it personally and reacting in a wrong way. There’s nothing worse than adding fuel to the fire, especially online. Please find below some of Do’s & Don’ts for your social customer service staff:

  1. Listen carefully –> stay focused to understand the reasons for a customer’s complaint (do not pay attention to his or her aggressive or rude behavior).
  2. Stay calm –> even though he/she may provoke or offend you, don’t ever take it personally; you are under attack because you are representing the brand.
  3. Respond, don’t react –> be brief and clear to explain situation to customer; if he/she insists on being aggressive without considering your answer, don’t argue with him or her.
  4. Don’t raise your voice, raise your empathy –> if a customer is yelling, do not try to reach to his or her volume. Conversely, maintain a lower, constant tone of voice. It is crucial to be conversational and proactive to get closer and offer real help to solve his/her issue (e.g. “Sorry to hear what you are facing …,” ” it must be terrible… maybe we can help you out by doing…”).
  5. Respond to one whilst thinking about many –> as online conversations are public, lots of customers and prospects are fully equipped with Pop Corn and Coca Cola to enjoy the show: ‘the online poor angry customer vs. the evil Brand’. Do remember that they will observe when and how you respond to that customer and ultimately, they will judge you!

Train > test > improve

Customers expectations are rising, as are their demands for social customer service. The fact is that you cannot just switch your customer service staff from traditional channels such as phone/email to online public channels (social networks). If you really want to stand out from your competitors you have to train them about the digital tools, and make sure to align their behaviors to online conversations common dynamics. 

SCS stats

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Your Turn

Social Customer Service is a relatively new way of dealing with customers and it is subject to changes just like social networks and digital platforms. That is why your brand must be flexible and willing to improve day by day.

Are you willing to handle both good and the bad side of the coin?

Thanks for reading this post, I’d love to read your views.


Lead/Featured image attribution: Copyright: ‘’ / 123RF Stock Photo

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Paolo Fabrizio

Digital Customer Service Consultant, Trainer, Author, Speaker. Paolo has been helping companies to harness digital customer service as a business driver. Founder of CustomerServiceCulture, author of books and speaker at conferences in Italy and abroad. Lecturer at the Bicocca University of Milan