Jay Baer's Hug Your Haters is one of my favorite business books that marketers like to ignore. Dealing hilariously with the topic of customer complaints, it gives the traditional customer service book a new spin. 

As social media and other digital channels like Reddit have opened avenues outside of phone or email for consumers to make their voice heard, companies and marketers should spend more time interacting with those channels. Yet, customer service is usually the last consideration for companies when they think about their social media strategy. Driving brand awareness, building communities, and increase content engagement, yes. Customer service, no. And it can really hurt your brand. Consider this, one-third of customer complaints go unanswered; and while 80 percent of companies claim they provide superior customer service, only an alarming 8 percent of their customers agree.

So, how do you get started when your company has never taken action on or even considered how to handle complaints via social.  

1. Take inventory of the types of haters and the types of complaints you receive: Do you receive more public or private messages with concerns? What types of problems, concerns, or messages do they post? To start, take a defined timeframe and map the complaints you experience in a simple spreadsheet - cluster where appropriate and themes emerge. 

2. Assign a rating to each type of post to indicate a level of severity. In this way you can develop short responses for customer posts that are good in nature, as well as standard responses for complaints that occur often or do not require escalation. 

3. Partner with your customer service department to develop a protocol for the severe customer service complaints that require further information, legal or HR counsel, or another form of escalation. New cases will come up all the time, so plan regular review meetings to update the response protocol for these cases. 

With these pieces in place you have a good starting point, without spending too much time on it. It might seem daunting, but believe me it isn't. It's all about organization. And you can build a more robust program from there.