Just because you can say something, doesn’t mean that you should, is the lesson that Uber’s general manager, Josh Mohrer, learned this week when he responded to a customer’s complaint on twitter.  Mr. Mohrer’s statement exemplifies how easily disputes can get out of hand by a simple off the cuff comment and how we should think before we tweet, text or respond to a complaint.

This week, Erin Mccann @mccanner tweeted that she was upset that a New York City cab refused to take a ride because it was “moonlighting as a (sic) uber.”  Her point was that the cab, which was  a properly licensed and medallioned cab, should not have refused to take a ride.  Mr. Mohrer responded by stating, “Well, the driver is likely just trying to feed his family and you threatened to put his livelihood in jeopardy, so…”  This text resulted in a typical twitter tirade, which resulted in Mr. Mohrer recanting by stating, “I inappropriately overreached in my explanation. I’m sorry Erin, that was unfair. Apologies and goodnight.”

Mr. Mohrer may have meant well by trying to defend his company, but his hasty and ill-considered statement in the twittersphere actually made matters worse. His story provides a great lesson for people that provide customer service:  Think before you speak.  Often in the rush of things, people will make a quick statement to either respond to a complaint or to simply say something for the sake of saying something.  Not all statements need to be made.  In fact, many disputes, just as Uber’s issue, may not involve you or your client and by responding imprudently, you may have inadvertently involved yourself in an escalating dispute.

Moreover, once the dispute takes hold — even if it is illogical — it is very hard to de-escalate the conflict.  Here are some suggestions to avoid this problem, and hopefully avoid escalating a small dispute into a full blown lawsuit:

  • Think before you say something in response to a complaint
  • Ask questions of the complainer before you answer the complaint
  • Make sure that you allow the other party time to fully explain the complaint
  • Give credence to the complaint.  People hate to be dismissed.  If they thought it was important to complain about, then it has some meaning to them.
  • Don’t be passive aggressive.
  • Apologize where appropriate.
  • Don’t be formal, but instead treat them like you would a friend
  • Ask the client for what he or she thinks sh0uld be the solution
  • Don’t take it personally
  • Make sure that the complaint is something within you or your company’s control

Source: Fast Company, How Not to Conduct Customer Service on Twitter, Brought to you By Uber’s GM