Once you’ve been in busi­ness long enough and have amassed a sig­nif­i­cant cus­tomer base, even­tu­al­ly some­thing you do will offend some­one. Their reac­tions may even be jus­ti­fied.

They may even take to social media to com­plain about your actions. If that hap­pens, address it imme­di­ate­ly; nev­er ignore it. When it comes to deal­ing with neg­a­tive feed­back, I always rec­om­mend tak­ing a pos­i­tive approach, includ­ing apol­o­giz­ing.

Here is how to prop­er­ly apol­o­gize on social media.

1. Say thank you

Thank the cus­tomer for their feed­back. With­out their feed­back, it’d be dif­fi­cult for your com­pa­ny to improve its ser­vices and process­es.

Thanks for your feed­back and for com­ing to us with your con­cerns.

2. Take responsibility

Don’t blame oth­ers. Don’t ratio­nal­ize. Just take own­er­ship of what hap­pened.

Thanks for your feed­back and for com­ing to us with your con­cerns. It’s our fault your driver’s seat had a rip after you dropped off your car for detail­ing.

3. Say sorry

Always apol­o­gize for what hap­pened, even if it wasn’t your fault. Don’t make emp­ty apolo­gies (e.g. I’m sor­ry you feel that way).

Thanks for your feed­back and for com­ing to us with your con­cerns. It’s our fault your driver’s seat had a rip after you dropped off your car for detail­ing. We’re sor­ry for our care­less­ness, and we’re sor­ry for how it has affect­ed you.

4. Ask for feedback on how to improve in the future

Ask­ing for con­struc­tive, pos­i­tive feed­back can help dif­fuse a tense, neg­a­tive sit­u­a­tion, and it can build the rela­tion­ship with your dis­grun­tled cus­tomer.

It’s our fault your driver’s seat had a rip after you dropped off your car for detail­ing. We’re sor­ry for our care­less­ness, and we’re sor­ry for how it has affect­ed you. What sug­ges­tions do you have that can help us avoid this unfor­tu­nate error from hap­pen­ing in the future?

It’s going to be tempt­ing to be defen­sive, to min­i­mize your error, or to even prove the cus­tomer wrong. Don’t do it. This often caus­es the sit­u­a­tion to esca­late, and esca­la­tion may lead to an out-of-con­trol sit­u­a­tion.

Pos­i­tive respons­es focused on repair­ing the rela­tion­ship with your cus­tomer and will show oth­ers that you val­ue your cus­tomer rela­tion­ships more than you val­ue your rep­u­ta­tion. In actu­al­i­ty, this sort of action will have a pos­i­tive effect on your rep­u­ta­tion.

What has worked for you in apol­o­giz­ing on social media? Let me know in the com­ments below.

About Kim Siever

I am a copy­writer and copy­ed­i­tor. I blog on writ­ing tips most­ly, but I some­times throw in my thoughts about run­ning a small busi­ness. Fol­low me on Twit­ter at @hotpepper.

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