How to effectively utilize social media’s many platforms is a sensitive topic for business professionals. Businesses, especially those that interact with the public and rely on good customer relations, can provide timely responses to complaints or problems by using tools like Twitter or Facebook. That ability is an attractive feature, especially when the customer base seems more comfortable texting or posting on Facebook rather than using a phone to actually talk.
However, the ease with which customers and businesses interact goes both ways. Complaints can “go viral” creating a groundswell of virtual support for an irate customer. Also, businesses must be sure to employ even-keeled personalities well-versed in social media language.
An online complaint should always be met with a timely acknowledgement and a suggestion for solving the problem. Airlines, power companies, cable companies, and other large service providers must tread especially carefully. Take a look at Tweets from PSE&G for examples of calm, reasoned responses.
Big brands without direct customer interaction sometimes rely on automated responses mixed with personal contact, and they tend to pick-and-choose which complaints to address. This is a smart method to use, but it can look neglectful to customers who visit a Facebook page or follow a Twitter account. However, empty and automated responses don’t work in times of crisis. Ask companies like JC Penney what happens when people take to social media with compliments and complaints. JC Penney has experienced both social media kudos and complaints firsthand. Small businesses may not receive the same ire, but they should be just as careful. And there are universal guidelines for small businesses to follow as well – like moving an upset customer to a different, off-line, venue.
If your business is getting started in social media, Sandler & Wald Social Media can help. We’ll set-up your channels, coach your business on how to maintain your various social media tools, or we’ll take care of all the social media aspects of your business for you. Contact us for more information!
A few of the resources we were reading this week included:
The Guardian: Making Social Media Work Professionally
TechCrunch: Brands Start Automating Social Media Responses On Facebook And Twitter
Information Week: Tips for Small Businesses