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3 Lessons For Handling Online Customer Complaints From Road House

3 Lessons For Handling Online Customer Complaints From Road House, restaurant seating

Someone leaves a negative comment about you or your small business on a website or social media platform. Once it happens, you’re officially under the microscope.

Respond too quickly and you could say something that inadvertently adds more fuel to the frustration fire.

Wait too long and one or two angry customers can quickly turn into an angry mob. What do you?

Here’s where the movie Road House comes in handy. In it, Patrick Swayze plays a rough and tough bouncer by the name of Dalton. He just so happens to be the best in the business and he’s hired to clean up a roadside bar known as the Double Deuce in a small town in Missouri…

What made Dalton so successful in squashing a never-ending barrage of bar fights? He always followed these three simple rules:

  1. “Never underestimate your opponent. Expect the unexpected.” You can never predict exactly how a customer is going to respond—especially when they’re already frustrated. As you map out your strategy, think about possible reactions to each scenario and how you plan on handling them.
  2. “Take it outside. Never start anything inside the bar unless it’s absolutely necessary.” This is ESPECIALLY important with online complaints. Never try to address any concerns online. Acknowledge the comment and then do everything you can to take the conversation offline as quickly as possible. You also never want to use online platforms to draw attention to a customer complaint—all that does is pull in other customers and that’s when things have a way from going from bad to worse.
  3. “Be nice.” This is probably the most difficult of the three. When you’re dealing with someone who is frustrated or angry, it’s easy to allow yourself to get frustrated and angry. But whatever you do, don’t let their negativity affect you. From the first Facebook comment, email, or phone call, do everything you can to be nice. Stay calm, hear them out, and then look for any opportunities to successfully resolve the situation.

Without going into all of the gory details, East End Food Co-op decided to make a public statement on their Facebook page…

Small business customer complaint Facebook post

Only to then backtrack less than 24 hours later and post another update saying they will address the situation offline in respect of peoples’ privacy…

Small business customer complaint Facebook response

The post wasn’t all bad. A number of customers immediately responded, showing their support. But as the conversation thread continued, things started to unwind. Regardless of the ultimate outcome, by not handling the issue offline they wound up taking a huge risk with little or no potential upside.

If and when you receive a negative comment online, just remember those three simple rules from the movie Road House. “One, never underestimate your opponent. Expect the unexpected. Two, take it outside. Never start anything inside the bar unless it's absolutely necessary. And three, be nice.”


[Image: Flickr user Bracketing Life]

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