“Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning” Bill Gates

Great customer relations have always been important in business, but now the stakes are much higher as unhappy clients can go straight to the company’s social media platforms to make their complaint.

Twitter has become the go-to channel for people to vent frustrations, and as their comments appear instantly, customers now expect the company to respond equally quickly.

This can prove problematic for companies who do not respond promptly to customer comments; recently pub chain Wetherspoons took the radical decision to shut down their social media accounts after bad publicity.

Natalie Bronwell at Constant Contact  has put together a three-stage process to handle online complaints:

1. Analyse – Don’t take it personally! What is the customer upset about? Do you need any further information? Have a look at their Twitter profile to give you insight into what is important to them.

2. Respond and apologise – even if you think the tweet in unwarranted. If you need more information, you can send a tweet with an apology and ask for the details that you need to correct the situation. However, if you can keep the interaction public then try your best to do so. You don’t want your customer to feel as though you’re trying to “hide” their complaint.

3. Don’t forget to follow through on what you’ve told your customer you’ll do. If you’ve offered to look into the situation and make it right, then do it.

You can even follow up with a customer delighter if your customer had a really negative experience. Something like a discount or other gesture of goodwill shows you take a quality experience seriously.


Responding promptly and making every effort to resolve a customer’s issue goes a long way to building loyalty.   Improving customer retention is a positive for any business. Even a small increase in retention can have a meaningful impact on business performance.

A 2% increase in customer retention has the same effect as decreasing costs by 10% (Gartner).

71% of consumers who experience positive social customer care are likely to recommend the brand to others, compared with just 19% of customers who do not get a response (NM Incite)

Twitter confirms customers who receive a response are 30% more likely to recommend the brand

69% of people who Tweeted negatively say they feel more favourable when a business replies to their concern.


Twitter is the perfect platform to be more personable with your support.  You don’t have to be as formal with your Tweets as you do in an email.  Respond to complaints with what seems like genuine upset rather than an emotionless corporate speak. Creating a social media persona enables a number of people to work on replies, but outwardly appear like one happy-to-help individual.

Finally, don’t be afraid of a little humour, customers appreciate a human voice and a great response can go viral like this classic from Argos: