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.
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.
In my interview with Renee Racine, of Indigo Books, she talked about reaching out to people who had complained about the company and inviting them to join customer panels. In today’s interview, Jay Baer told a similar story from Le Pain Quotidien restaurant chain. They actually turned those who had complained into mystery shoppers for their chain, giving them coupons for a monthly meal at a different restaurant in the chain each month in exchange for giving a frank assessment of what the experience was like. Brilliant! (Even if it is a little worrisome to companies like mine, that do mystery shopping for clients!)
In the interview we also discuss:
Why you shouldn’t just move customer service staff from phones and email 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, we are training people to complain publicly by only answering them quickly in social media.
These days, you’ve got to be fast in public and in private.
The mistake of comparing 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 plumbers here in oil country when prices were still high), 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.
The advantage small and mid-sized businesses have when it comes to customer service.
Large companies are struggling to deal with huge customer data systems that don’t yet communicate smoothly with each other. It’s why, for example, you often have to repeat your account number to the call center rep even though you already keyed it in when the automated system told you to. It is hugely expensive to change them, and how do you do it while still maintaining good customer service during the transition?
Small businesses can fix customer service problems more easily if they decide to make doing so a priority.
Mid-sized businesses, once they are over the hump of realizing that they need systems now that they have grown, are likely still at a size where it is possible to buy something that is set up to connect all customer data or to connect the systems they’ve got.
What do you think: should you Hug Your Haters?