One of the biggest reasons company owners and CEOs want to avoid social media is because they’ve heard horror stories about companies that made little mistakes and then were attacked on social media.
Often the attacks aren’t even fair; some people just love to gripe publicly.
As Jay Baer, author of the new book, Hug Your Haters, puts it: “Increasingly customer service is a spectator sport.”
So why should you risk even talking to customers on social media?
Two answers to that:
1. You really don’t have a choice anymore.
People will attack you on social media if they want to. Of course, others may defend you, and still others will compliment you. One way to make a little problem turn into a huge one is to ignore it. Ignoring online haters is as effective as throwing a blanket over your head and saying “you can’t see me!” Actually, it is even worse than that, because of social media’s ability to quickly point out to millions of people that you are hiding.
2. Handled right, you can turn your enemies into allies.
People who complain care! By reaching out to you they’ve given you a golden opportunity to fix what went wrong, and turn them from angry into advocates.
When I ran a bunch of retail bank branches we actually had a service guarantee: if you weren’t happy just tell us why and we’d return double your service charges. The key, for us, was that we wanted to know why they were upset instead of just having them go elsewhere. Usually we could turn them back into loyal, happy customers.
Other Tips for Handling Social Media Without Sparking Fires
Don’t just move staff from call centers to social media!
Most people still try to get service in a private way first, so it is hugely important to serve them well in those private platforms. Instead, by under-staffing our call centers we are training people to complain publicly because we only answer them quickly in social media.
The result is that you get needless bad publicity!
Don’t compare your customer service levels to others in your industry.
We’ve all been trained by what I call the Amazon Effect: expecting service quality, speed and pricing comparable to Amazon. So if you think you can get away with slow or sloppy service because “that’s the way this industry works,” you are wrong.
In a purely local market where there is a shortage of people available (such as air conditioner repair people during a heatwave), you can get away with it for a while, but pretty soon you’ll be losing out to new competitors who’ve decided to make customer service their point of differentiation.
Move From Public to Private
Don’t bury your head in the sand. It won’t help.
The greatest risk you face from social media these days is if you ignore it. @temafrank
Be proactive, and build good relationships with customers before they are upset. And when things go wrong, be polite, helpful, empathetic, and gently encourage the customer to let you help them in a private forum of their choosing.
This post is based on an article that first appeared in the Frank Reactions website. Tema Frank is the author of the soon-to-be-released book, PeopleShock: The Path to Profits When Customers Rule. Get the introduction and first chapter FREE at http:peopleshock.com.
(Photos courtesy of Pixabay.com)