Companies are afraid of losing ‘control’ of their brand message. There are two parts to their fear. One, customers have the freedom to say whatever they want; and, two, that is only that message in the marketplace. You can see that in part two you as a person responsible for the brand message or customer communications (yes you!) can jump in and be a part of shaping what’s presented in social media.
We already know that #1 is happening. Putting your head in the sand won’t stop it. Don’t let your fear of what customers are saying stifle your willingness to work on part #2. This is where you can become the hero of your customers and business value – offering helpful messages and bringing balance to what is being presented. Plus, you can gain ideas that can help shape your business direction and focus.
The best way to overcome this fear is to engage with customers in a dialogue via social media. Leaving negative comments alone doesn’t make them better, but engaging and solving problems and responding really can.
Let’s look at an example of possible public dialogue:
– @CustomerA tweets that they got a stale piece of cake from your bakery
– Your bakery replies and apologizes and offers @CustomerA a new slice of cake free of charge at a time of their convenience
– @CustomerA tweets “thanks @bakery you really made my day, you guys rock”
– @CustomerZ, who follows @CustomerA, now chimes in and says how much they like @bakery too
– Now, when @CustomerA talks with friends in person, she tells them that @bakery is so good that they responded to a complaint within a day and not only offered a new slice of cake, but also promised that the bakery will keep a closer eye on freshness.
As you can see, if @bakery hadn’t engaged in dialogue with the customer then the dialogue about @bakery would only have consisted of negative comments. But the conversation now includes positive comments, too. Customers like to see companies responding on Twitter (or any social media) to customer services issues – it makes them feel like you are a company for them (because you use Twitter like they do). In fact 62% of customers have used social media to get customer service help. (Study: http://bit.ly/w1s6N4 ) This creates a very positive customer experience for customers, too. If they are active in social media, receiving a response makes them even happier with your business.
Intuit, the software company, found that after only three months of engaging in social media negative comments dropped 30%! That’s a strong case for getting engaged in social media with the right plan, approach and messages.
Another benefit of engaging in social media is that customers can help each other (following your lead). This deflects calls/contacts from your customer contact center. This happens because other customers are watching your messages and their friend’s messages and they can start problem solving to help other customers. Customers like to help each other, that is why Yelp is so powerful: Customers want to help other customers find the best places (or dishes) to eat or save their money and avoid bad places. It’s the customer fellowship.
In our example above, @CustomerA can now tell anyone who complains about the bakery to be in touch with the company via twitter to report the issue (where it can be once again be brought to their attention) and the customer may even get free cake out of it!.
This customer-to-customer support also puts more positive dialogue in the marketplace and offers even faster responses to issues – that helps diffuse any situation faster.
Kim Proctor is the Vice President of Social Media Solutions for Customer Relationship Metrics. In addition to her work with CRM Kim is the owner of Customers That Click where she helps organizations to get customers that click to stick with their business.