Having your company slated in public is incredibly embarrassing, but with today’s social media prevalence it is unfortunately inevitable. While it’s temping to erase and ignore the slander, this couldn’t be further from the best course of action.

A huge 80 percent of customer service tweets are negative or critical in nature, so they are no small issue to be swept under the rug. Instead, setting a strategy for how to responsibly manage and respond to them is just as important as the rest of your twitter activity.

 We know that, just like our friends, companies show their true colours when times get tough. Everyone is happy to be charming and accommodating when something is going in their favour. However, the sign of a good relationship, whether this is between two friends or a firm and its customer, is how they treat one another during tough periods

Instead of shying away and turning a blind eye to the comments of your disgruntled customers, see this as an opportunity to show how much you care. Since news of bad customer service reaches more than twice as many ears as praise for a good experience, you’re not only showing this one customer, but also their friends and followers.

So start successfully managing your negative tweets by following a few simple do’s and don’ts.

Do…

 …Say Sorry and Suggest a Solution: Apologise unreservedly for the error or poor quality and promise to rectify the situation for them. Do this and there’s a 70% chance that they’ll do business with you again. If you accept their dissatisfaction and do nothing, it’s 91% likely that they’ll never want to do business with you again. After all, a little politeness never hurt anyone; it may even bring back a customer.

 …See this as an Opportunity: On average you’ll only hear from 4% of unsatisfied customers, so it’s important to listen to the ones that pipe up. By doing so you can discover new ways to improve your service and therefore gain and retain customers. Since retaining an existing customer is 6-7 times cheaper than attracting a new one, it would be foolish to throw one away at the first hurdle. Nurture and develop your customers into loyalists and advocates; one bad experience shouldn’t damage this if handled correctly.

Don’t…

 …Ignore or Delete them: Do this and they’ll likely come back with a vengeance. An angry customer is a loud one, whether this is online or in person to their friends. Either way one unsatisfied customer can quickly turn in to a bunch of sceptical prospective customers. By not even responding, you’re only reaffirming their claims of your poor service or shoddy product.

…Be defensive: Your customers want to be heard and empathised with rather than challenged. Responding defensively will only rub them up the wrong way. Avoid further frustration and disappointment by being humble and accepting responsibility for the fault.

As a rule of thumb, treating your customers like your friends will ensure you’re always working to develop and nurture a stronger relationship. With this mind-set it’s hard to go wrong. So help your customers through tough times, even when this means you have to make sacrifices yourself. And above all resist the temptation to ignore, or worse lash out, as in the end two negatives won’t ever result in a positive outcome.