Respond Like A Human

ImageI’m not sure I have the heart to handle negative complaints that a lot of companies get, especially ones that provide a service or a product. It has to be hard to see the negativity and respond in a kind and caring way all the time. I’m sure people aren’t saying what they really want to say but turn on their professional tone and assist customers with their needs.

If I received this complaint how would I respond?

“I am disgusted about the state of your store on 1467 Justin Kings Way. The counter was smeared in what looked like grease and the tables were full of trash and remains of meals. It makes me wonder what the state of your kitchen is?!!! Gross.”

My response:

“I really appreciate you making us aware of the state of our store. What you described certainly doesn’t meet our standards. I’d really like to get more information from you and make up for the situation. I will message you my contact information.”

I don’t want to be too robotic and have a standard out of the box answer. I used “I” in the response to make it more personal instead of using “we” as a company. I tried to infuse sincerity and concern while finding a way to move the conversation off social media. I wouldn’t want more details spilling out for all to see. It’s bad enough for other customers to see this complaint, so I’d want to stop the situation before it could get any worse. Hopefully the customer would comply.

How should a mainstream news network respond to this complaint when the programming was actually not one sided?

“Your reporting on the Middle East is biased in the extreme. You gave almost all your air time to spokespeople for the Israelis last night and there was no right to reply for the Palestinians. The conflict upsets me so much and your reporting of it, saddens me even more and makes me f**king furious.”

My response:

“Thank you for reaching out and taking the time to provide your feedback. I’m sorry that our broadcast stirred up such negative emotions for you. This is an extremely important matter and we always want to report fairly. I’m going to remove your comment because of the language being used as it goes against our community guidelines. I will make our producers aware of your feedback.”

That was a tough response to develop. How do you respond politely to someone yet tell them you don’t think they are right. You want them to feel like their opinion matters and that you are listening. The user of a cuss word also makes for an interesting situation. If the company had community guidelines posted, then I would have every right to remove the comment but first let the person know why it is being removed. I wouldn’t want someone to think it was removed because it was negative.


5 thoughts on “Respond Like A Human

  1. Stacy,

    I think you did a great job responding to the second comment in a way that addressed the viewers concerns and made it clear that comments involving obscenities would not be welcome on your page. This is NOT an easy thing to accomplish, I actually avoided that all together in my response. While the coverage may have been fair and balanced, it is important for viewers to know that their comments (negative or positive) are welcome.

    Your first response was excellent as well. It is important for a customer to feel heard, that their concerns are taken seriously and they are speaking with a human. I liked that you gave them another avenue where they can voice their concerns without providing more details on the public page where other current and/or potential consumers can read them.

    1. Thanks Casey. I’ve never had to approach obscenities before and if/when I do I hope it goes smoothly. It doesn’t seem like an easy topic to approach and will likely further fuel someone’s fire.

  2. Great post. I will reveal more about how broadcasters have dealt with complaints for real like the one I gave you, with cussing, at the end of the week!

  3. Great post, Stacy. I like your use of “we” and “I” in both posts. It definitely comes across more personal than a canned response. This type of “human” response can go a long way with fans feeling like they are being heard. So often in customer service settings, customers feel like they get no where. Social media has helped people feel like they are being heard and it’s great when companies can help them feel that way.

    I too, decided to “remove” the second post because of the language. I like how you handled it though. I said I would like to follow up with the viewer more in a private message setting, but I like how you addressed it and basically shut it down all in one comment. That’s smart. By saying you’ll pass along the comment, you’re acknowledging it but not engaging anymore. Good call!

    1. Thanks Laura. Glad you liked it. I don’t have much practical experience and it may have taken me a few tries to get it right but this was great practice for the real world. I wanted to not come off as being corporate.

      On Fri, Jun 20, 2014 at 5:49 PM, stacyshanks wrote:


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