When a customer complaint comes in, it is easy to do everything except the right thing.

Whether we like it or not, mistakes are going to happen sometimes. Whether we’re truly responsible for them or not, there are still going to be customers who believe we’re at fault. Social media has only increased the likelihood of these occurrences.

If you or your customer service team needs to be reminded of the right course of action, it’s pretty much the path of super service. Take responsibility for the mistake quickly, apologize, and do everything to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

Though it’s not always the easiest path, it can have the most positive results.

First, the immediate fires of anger will be extinguished. If your apology is sincere, the unhappy customer may recognize and appreciate your effort to listen and be satisfied with the outcome. They may even continue to patronize you, hoping that this offense was a fluke and that you’re focused on making things better. (Beware of those who feel they’ve been wronged multiple times by you. It’s even more difficult to win them back, and they’ll enjoy sharing their gripes.)

Taking your lumps and admitting a mistake is not just good for your customers, but a way of spotting weak points in your organization. Maybe it takes an unplanned screw-up to show that your processes have flaws, and you need better quality control or better efficiency.

With the attitude of “fixing mistakes makes us a better, stronger, and more responsive company,” it’s almost tempting to welcome errors when they happen, simply because it can be your team’s time to shine.

Unfortunately, it’s easy to avoid these types of situations simply because it’s difficult to want to hear from customers who are unhappy, especially those who call you out in public places like social media.

That’s why it’s tempting to ignore a customer complaint by not responding to their posts or deleting them, or by zinging them right back.

Either option might feel good in the short run, and may even get you cheers from a few people, but in the long run, you just look mean-spirited.