Is an Online Battle With a Customer Worth It?

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Your small business is rolling along and then it hits.

One day you upset a customer and he or she takes to the Internet to voice their disapproval with your products and/or services. So, do you fight back or hope that the furor passes over?

Not too many decades ago it was more a matter of the disgruntled customer picking up the phone, visiting the business in person or mailing off a letter to express their dismay. While those modes of communication certainly remain prevalent in today’s business world, the age of the Internet and especially social media over the last decade has opened up a whole new can of worms for business owners.

Upset Customers Can Spread Like a Wildfire

Whereas in the past an unhappy customer may have meant a few days of discomfort and maybe an additional lost client or two, the power of the Internet allows a disgruntled individual to spread their unhappiness like a wildfire. In a number of cases, your business can easily get burned by such occurrences.

Should you find yourself in a situation with a customer or customers that have taken to the Internet to voice their displeasure with your business, keep several factors in mind.

Among them:

  • Nip the problem in the bud – Unlike the “old days” when a customer calling you or writing you with a complaint, a single complaint voiced over social media today can spread quickly. Address the matter as quickly as possible to see how you can address their concerns. When you let the matter go unanswered, it doesn’t take long for people to start believing what they read, even if it isn’t the truth;
  • Don’t air your dirty laundry in public – While it would be relatively easy to get into a verbal war of words online with a disgruntled customer, it serves no purpose other than to diminish your company’s reputation. If one or more customers are using online venues to talk negatively about your business, take the conversation offline and see how you can assist them. Reputation is everything in the business world, having one that is not looked at positively by potential customers will only hurt yours;
  • Remind the public of the good things your business offers – Even though you should not try to bury and hide the negative feelings some customers may have, you definitely do want to accentuate the positive whenever possible. Use your company’s social media pages such as Facebook and Twitter, along with your company blog, to promote the positive things your business is doing. If a potential customer comes to your site or sees negative information floating around the Internet regarding your business, they are obviously less inclined to do business with you. As an example, you run a small travel agency and a client recently had a terrible experience using your services, In turn, they take to Facebook and tell others not to use your company. Along with addressing their experience, you should be on social media, your company blog, etc. noting the various positive things someone doing business with your company will receive;
  • You can’t please everyone – In a perfect world, your customers would be content and never cause you any anguish. Remember, that is in a perfect world. In the real world, however, there will be customers that take issue with this or that about your business, one of your employees, your products and services and more. While your goal is to please every single customer, keep more realistic goals in mind. Yes, you should show concern when a customer voices displeasure with your company, but unless it becomes a regular trend, don’t stay awake seven nights a week over this.

At the end of the day, your business can use social media venues and your own company site to both promote your business and put out brush fires from unhappy customers.

If your company has not taken a social approach to doing business up to now, it is about time you change that culture.

Dave Thomas, who covers among other topics workers compensation and credit card processing, writes extensively for

Ann Smarty

Ann Smarty

Brand amd Community Manager at Internet Marketing Ninjas
Ann Smarty is the blogger and community manager at Internet Marketing Ninjas. Ann's expertise in blogging and tools serve as a base for her writing,... Read Full Bio
Ann Smarty
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