While researching a new restaurant to visit, I purposely read the online reviews concerning how customers felt about the service. Luckily for me (and the restaurant), the majority of the reviews were positive. Within myself I wondered if someone affiliated with the restaurant was aware of the online reviews. Social media has proven to be a powerful tool. It allows mass communication of ideas, thoughts and opinions. It can be a wonderful marketing tool for your business. It’s to the business community’s advantage to embrace social media as a way for customers to voice their opinion about products and services. Social media is an additional channel to monitor to insure awareness of customer opinion. Customers utilize Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to advise the social media community of their experiences with your product or service. By simply googling poor customer service – your city (in my case – Houston, Tx) you’ll find examples of customer comments regarding their customer service experiences.
Consider these statistics when making the decision of whether or not to monitor the social media channels. According to Customers Rock, over 58% of tweeters who have tweeted about a bad experience have never received a response from the offending company. 55% of consumers expect a response the same day to an online complaint – yet only 29 % receive one. 43% of consumers say that companies should use social media to solve customer problems. These statistics appear to indicate that customers have embraced social media as a way to express their opinions, while some companies have yet to embrace the necessity to monitor and respond to customer complaints placed on the social media channels. While there are differing opinions regarding how many followers the average Twitter user has (I’ve seen numbers as high as 125 followers per user to as low as 10 followers per user), the mere fact that negative information is broadcast in this manner is not to be taken lightly. The “old” method of offering one’s opinion to other consumers via chance opportunities has given way to the ability for immediate distribution to multiple consumers. The revenue and reputation impact can be great. Remember, some will chose to do business with you based upon the experiences of others. Make the decision to monitor the social media channels for conversation regarding your business. You might say that you don’t have the time or manpower to do this. I would suggest that you accept that consumers have chosen social media as a way to express their opinion and treat this just as you would if someone called your business to complain or complained in person. Another reason to monitor the social media channels is that it gives you an opportunity to determine what percentage of your customers utilizing social media to give their opinion, speak negatively about their experience with your company. Are there patterns in regards to the comment topics? As an addition to the more traditional methods of accumulating data about your customer’s experience with your company, social media allows you to collect data quickly in order to correct issues promptly. Just as you would respond to an “in person” complaint, do the same with a negative social media comment. Research by evolve24, a Maritz Research company, shows that of the 29% of consumers receiving a reply after tweeting negative information about a company, 83% stated that they liked or loved the fact that they received a reply to their Twitter complaint.
Social media is here to stay. Just as the 1-800 number has proven to be a more customer friendly way to allow the customer to give their opinion about your company, social media has added another channel for you to address in your quest to providing great customer service.