As Abraham Lincoln once famously said, “you can please some of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time”.

If you run a social enterprise, you’ll understand that no matter how much you strive to offer complete satisfaction, there’ll sometimes be interactions that don’t meet your customers’ expectations.

These days an upset customer can spread their displeasure far and wide in an instant, as social media has made it incredibly easy for them to publicly air their grievances.

If your social enterprise is the subject of a damning review, or a vitriolic outburst from a dissatisfied customer, here are some ways that you can effectively handle such complaints:

1. Always listen

Always keep your eyes and ears open for any possible negative comments that could be made about your enterprise on social media.

You should always be “listening out” for mentions, whether they’re good or bad. Track all mentions of your enterprise by following hashtags and regularly checking your social media feeds and comments for mentions of your username.

2. Act quickly

If you see something negative about your social enterprise on social media, don’t ignore it.

Act quickly and respond directly to the comment that has been made. Most unhappy customers will be emotionally charged and expect a reply in the shortest time possible to prevent them from feeling ignored or unimportant.

Slow response times can further fan the flames of discontent and may lead to more negative comments being posted for all to see.

3. Be genuine

Sometimes mistakes happen; people receive a poor service or plans can just generally go awry.

No matter the size of your social enterprise, it’s controlled by humans, and errors or omissions can happen from time to time.

Always respond in a helpful and authentic way when something goes wrong, and never come across as negative or defensive. Even if you can’t solve the problem there and then, being human about it can help to diffuse the situation.

4.  Be seen

If your unhappy customer has decided to complain about you on a public platform, then your response should be equally as public.

Responding publicly is essential to show that you’re listening and that you’re transparent, attentive and eager to resolve the situation. You may want to continue the conversation more directly going forward, but always publicly respond to any negative feedback to show that you care.

5. Be mindful

Complaints should always be dealt with quickly and as efficiently as possible but be wary of those who may not have a genuine grievance with your social enterprise, but are looking to stir up sentiment or acquire something for nothing.

Trolls, chancers and those who simply bare a grudge make up a very small minority of social media users, but they are out there.

If you’re clear about not tolerating those who post unnecessary comments online, then you’re free to block them and their comments from your feeds.

For example, you could simply add a statement to your page saying, “we welcome feedback, and interaction but we reserve the right to remove any postings of a vulgar, profane or inappropriate nature”.

Remember, it’s easy to post a negative review or comment from behind a keyboard, but many disenfranchised customers are simply looking to be heard and want you to respond. Take control of the situation by reaching out to them in a transparent, friendly and helpful way, and resolve the situation for the benefit of both parties.