You’d better pay attention to what’s being said about you online because the conversation is happening whether or not you decide to show up. Sound familiar? It’s the golden rule of social media. It’s a sound bite you’ll hear it from speaker after speaker at any social media event you go to, and it’s true.
Do you really have to pay attention though? Should you respond to every gripe or complaint a customer has? I don’t think so. Isn’t that the same thing as buying a kid candy every time they start screaming in the checkout line? Don’t you run the risk of conditioning your customers into crybabies? To a certain degree, I think this is the case.
Not all organizations have this luxury though. As we’ve seen in the success stories of Dell and Comcast, you can score a lot of brownie points with consumers when you listen and engage online – particularly when you own and resolve problems for customers. If you’re an organization like BP, on the other hand, you really can’t ignore what’s being said about you online. Your problem won’t just go away.
If you’re a small business, you’ll most likely have some complainers online. They’ll post a bad review on Yelp!, trash you on Twitter, or fillet you on Facebook. It’s more likely somebody will share negative feedback than positive – it’s the whole emotional side of things. In these smaller cases, there’s a good chance if you ignore a rogue complaint here or there, the person will go away. But you’d be missing a huge opportunity if you ignored them. Anytime somebody complains, you have an opportunity to turn their rants into raves. Here’s an illustrative example:
My refrigerator died the other day. I called Sears to come to fix it. They told me they could come to look at it in a week. A week seemed like a long time to me. I got mad and tweeted about it. Rather than ignore me, Sears @replied and asked for my info. They jumped on the opportunity to make things right – and agreed publicly that a week was too long to wait. The rep that took care of me was personal, very likable and somebody that seems to really love her job. A repairman came out the next day, and a week later, my refrigerator is working great.
Sears could have ignored my rant. It would have gotten lost in a sea of tweets. Do any of my followers really care whether or not I have cold milk? Probably not. Like all the smart brands online that understand the potential of social media to strengthen customer relationships, Sears turned my rant into a rave. They took care of me. This is what brands are supposed to do for their customers – the lifeblood of their business. So far, I’ve shared this story in panel discussions and in this blog post. Just by listening and taking care of a reasonable customer request, Sears has increased customer loyalty by one person. Imagine the impact that could have across the 100s of customers they must talk to each week.
The next time somebody is complaining or saying something negative about you or the brands you represent, like yourself, how can I turn this rant into a rave?