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The first time I handled a complaint for a client on Instagram in 2018, I almost lost the client N1.5 Million naira. Yes, it was that serious, but my client ended up refunding about 250k to the customer. The second time I tried playing smart with a customer on Twitter, well we ended up on Instablog for the wrong reasons and I cried like a baby 🤣🤣, no jokes. The thing about a customer’s complaint on social media is that if it’s not handled very well it could escalate beyond your control and can spread like wildfire.

Most times when a customer is giving a particular brand ‘gbas gbos’ online all they want to be told is ‘We’re sorry this happened we’ll look into it and ensure it doesn’t happen again at least for a start, some customers would want to drag you through the mud and see that you trend so you have to be prepared for it either way. People want to be heard, seen as important and be taken seriously; so, every customer online is very important, and, you have to treat them that way, ALWAYS.

Before I delve into how you should handle upset clients, let me lend you this, when a client complains on the TL never ever ever ever ever ever say ‘We have sent you a DM’. Ensure you address their complaints in the open where other clients would see them. This could result in two things, either they see you as an unserious brand or they see that you value your customers, I would hope the latter happens.

No matter how frustrating difficult clients can be, with the right social media response strategy, you could convert angry, raving customers into loyal fans.

Here’s how you can get started.


1. KNOW HOW TO LISTEN: Responding to negative feedback about your brand is an important part of managing your online reputation – however, you cannot respond to conversations you don’t see. If you don’t know who is saying what, you’re going to struggle with responding to those difficult customers who are littering the internet with poor reviews of your product or service.

In order to do this, you need to hone your social media efforts to ensure that you’re always alerted to negative whispers

This can mean using several tools like

Google Alerts:  A free tool by Google, you can set up alerts for your brand name to inform you of when people are talking about you.

Mention: Mention enables you to monitor, in real-time, any keywords and hashtags that people are using on social media.
Sprout Social: Helps you schedule posts on social media and track conversations about your brands

Hootsuite: Just like Sprout, easily monitor your brand online and schedule posts.


2. RESPOND LIKE A HUMAN BEING: The only thing worse than ignoring upset customers is to respond with a rehearsed corporate response. You need to be willing to show empathy, communicate in a friendly tone, and interact in a more intimate way – no matter how distressed or frustrated you feel. Remember, it’s easy for customers to scream at anonymous brands, but when you throw a human element into the mix, then your difficult client realizes they’re not talking to some faceless company – they’re screaming at a real human being.

Try introducing yourself and issuing an apology as early as possible:

“Hi, this is Ade, I’m sorry to hear about your problem, and I’d like to help.”

This personal approach can help to diffuse some of the anger your customer is feeling, and let them know that someone is listening to their concerns.

For instance, when Mike Mccready tweeted that he didn’t appreciate his hotel room view, the hotel, Delta, responded within one hour despite Mike not mentioning the brand.


3. RESPOND QUICKLY: Though you might feel like it’s more effective to take your time and craft a carefully thought out response for those most difficult customers, the truth is that speed could be significantly more important.

When you’re facing negative word of mouth, time is not on your side. The longer you wait to respond, the angrier the customer will get—and the more likely others will pick up on the issue and spread the negative buzz.

At the very least, say this:

“Hi, my name is Ade, I’m sorry about your inconvenience and I’d like to help you. We’re attending to your complaint now, and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible. If you have any questions, contact me directly at _____ or send us a DM.”

A message like this does two things:

  • The ranter knows he or she has your attention—there’s much less incentive to keep spreading the anger and
  • It makes a real person with real contact info available, so if the person is still angry, you’ve at least specified a place to vent other than online.



4. IF YOU GET INTO A FIGHT YOU’VE LOST: Imagine MTN starting a fight on the TL with a customer that complained about their data, everyone will definitely cancel MTN and that will not go well for them. Just because you’re not yet as big as MTN doesn’t mean you cannot be dragged and it doesn’t mean you can’t respond. You need to explain your side of the story and start a conversation with the upset client.

You just need to be in the right mindset:

  • Don’t get emotional.
  • Remember, it’s a real person. Just as they see you as a faceless company, it’s easy to see them as just another complainer.
  • The critic is actually doing you a favour. They’re helping you learn to be a better company. For every person who actually speaks up, many more walk away quietly, never to return.

Well, these tips are not set in stone as you might need to wing it on the job, one thing I’ve learnt is that customers are not always right but you still need to treat them with respect no matter how rude they are.

When engaging online, people can get angrier about an issue than they would in face-to-face interaction, but dealing with that anger can help you to develop your long-term reputation as a responsive brand. By using the above tips for using social media to deal with difficult customers, your business can set itself apart as a hub of incredible customer service and value.


  • Act like a human being (but don’t get too emotional)
  • Respond quickly, and publicly
  • Find a way to fix the issue

Thank you for reading.

P.S you can reach out directly to me at if you have any questions about Social Media communications for your brand.

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