Anger is an emotion that spreads much more widely and quickly across the social network according to one Chinese study.

You've worked so hard to build your eCommerce brand and reputation and suddenly one, two, three, fifty customers complain on social media and you start loosing your nerve.

When your customer is expressing anger, she or he is not using the thinking part of the brain - the cortex - but the limbic center of the brain. It all responds to a frustration - where is my package? is one of the most common request we see online.

They may be right or wrong. What matters is understanding why your customers are angry. What pushes them to act like this.

Why are they angry against you and why do they show it on social media?


It's a relief for them


Complaining online is like kicking on an empty can in the street. Your customers will feel better after that, for a while, and they're expecting a quick reply from you. I know, it's not the best way to start a conversation but take it or leave it, you have to answer.

It's easier for them


Given the option, would you spend 20 minutes over the phone, if not longer, or type a message from your smartphone in less than 140 characters? Think about spending 20 minutes over the phone waiting for a customer representative versus unleashing your frustration in 140 characters. Much easier.

It's more efficient


Everybody can see an angry tweet or a mean post on Facebook. Customers know that brands will respond quicker when their message is public. Again, when you are on the phone with a customer representative, it's only between you and the customer. Having angry customers - which happens - promote their anger against your brand in front of thousands eyeballs can affect your image negatively.

๐Ÿ‘‰ Your customers want your attention.๐Ÿ‘ˆ

And they paid for your product right? This simple "rapport-de-force" gives them the impression that they have the right to complain. It's up to you to manage this situation

How to manage your angry customers?


Step 1: Be transparent


You can't be available 24/7. Be transparent on your social media accounts and let your customers know when it's a good time to reach. Facebook gives you now the option to display whether you're available or not. Use it.

Couriers for instance are having a hell of time on Twitter. Just research "where is my package" and you'll find tons of angry users frustrated by delays or wrong tracking information. You probably don't have the same team as Zappos to respond to your users all the time so you better announce when you can answer. See an example below of DPD UK.


Step 2: Assess whether the customer is right or not


You know what they say about customers being right? Well it's not entirely true of course. Famous entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk offers his method of dealing with pissed-off customers.
It's straightforward and there's plenty to learn in this short post but here's the best:

I donโ€™t allow them to feel as though they are correct. While I understand their plight, if they are wrong, I want to make sure they understand that. I know a lot of people will disagree with me on this, but I truly believe in it. To maintain customer relationships, sometimes you have to explain the rules.

Gary Vaynerchuk

Step 3: Move them away from social media as quick as possible and switch to email


Email is a good compromise between a phone call and a tweet to manage an angry customer. You can go deeper and you're not limited by some social media constraints (140 characters on Twitter).

When you do this, you reduce the negative impact on your brand's image. Plus it gives you the final word. See the example of Grana on Facebook below:

Step 4: Don't take it personally but make it personal


Try to think of the context and why the experience went wrong. In other words show empathy. Sign with your name at the bottom of the message. If on Twitter, use your initials. Make it personal. See below the example of Amazon:

Here's how GREATS handles angry customers:

The best thing to do is be genuine, and let them know that you're feeling their pain! Empathy is key. Let them know that you understand that they're upset, and that they have the right to be. And that you're doing everything in your power to make it up to them!

Andrew, Customer Satisfaction Manager at GREATS

Step 5: Apologise and offer a solution


Don't be too cheesy or too fake. Offer a quick and straight apology and then a solution. Angry customers are running out of patience and you have plenty on your plate too. There's a sense of achievement for you as well to quickly solve an issue. Make it like a game.

And they are quick to reply too:

Step 6: Turn them upside / down, also known as the "Switch"


Use this angry message as an opportunity to build a stronger relationship with your customer. He or she is not happy with you? Fine. Ask her how you can improve in the long run? When you achieve what she's expecting you to achieve, remind her. She'll come back. The best eCommerce brands learn crazy about their customers.

Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning

โ€”Bill Gates

Final Word


You're looking at more traffic, and more customers, which means, unfortunate ly more risks of having frustrated customers. You're doing your best to keep your customers satisfied, but sometimes sh$%! happens. Eat that.

  • Make yourself or someone in your team accountable and be transparent about it
  • Assess whether you're right or wrong, and the psychology of your customer
  • Move them from social media to email
  • Don't take it personally
  • Apologise and offer a solution as soon as possible
  • Learn from this experience to improve your service or product the next time

Any crazy angry story to share with us? Do you know someone who works in customer-facing positions? Share this article with them. Thanks for reading ๐Ÿ‘Š We're on Twitter to continue the discussion #angrycustomers