From mindless enthusiasm to exaggerated fear: a brief history of customer care & social media
In the beginning, social media was all the rage. It was compulsory to have a Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram, Foursquare, “YouNameIt” page, and all the major companies quickly set up accounts to promote their brands and take good care of their customers.
Only problem was, they didn’t quite understand how social media really worked: they thought it simply was yet another channel to shout about their brand, where they could be from just 9 to 5, where they could simply ignore or delete complaints from angry customers. Of course, they couldn’t be more wrong, and chaos ensued.
Then came the Great Disillusion: the web started to fill up with dreadful stories about how difficult it was to use social media, especially for customer care. Companies were scared off more and more.
When advising clients about their social media presence most agencies sounded a little bit like a “Don’t go there!” sign placed just in front of a dark and deadly swamp. “Beware of social media!”, they used to say, “Being there without knowing what to do is fraught with danger! Things can backfire and get of hand quickly! Don’t use it unless absolutely necessary!”
The ostrich strategy won’t help you get out of the social media swamp
Yes, it’s all true: social media is dangerous. It is difficult and time consuming to handle, customers might badmouth you both publicly and privately, things can quickly overwhelm your team, trolls are always ready to get you. Yet the truth is you have no choice, not anymore: you simply HAVE to be there.
1. Bad things will happen even if you (pretend you) are not looking.
Not having a Twitter handle or a Facebook page won’t prevent disappointed customers from mentioning your brand, complaining, engaging, discussing it: it will simply stop you from hearing. Problems will still come out, with the difference that you won’t be able to control them!
2. The main thing about social media isn’t the talking, but the listening.
Instead of worrying so much about engaging customers, promoting your brand, and talking constantly about something, simply LISTEN. Monitor meaningful keywords, find the right influencers, keep an eye on your industry: that’s the true power of social media.
3. Numbers aren’t the main point
Measuring success on social media isn’t all about metrics: if you have engaged with only two customers today, but you were able to solve their problems quickly and make them happy, you are a still a winner. Contrary to popular belief, with social media, quality does beat quantity.
4. Timing is everything, but empathy trumps even that
It’s true that using social media channels customers expect a speedy and direct answer… yet offering some empathy can still go a long way. If you can offer a sincere apology and quick public solution using less then 140 characters, you are definitely doing it right.
Start with customer care!
It’s true that on social media channels everyone is watching you and extra care is required… but all those customers will be there even if you decide to ignore them.
To get started on the right foot with your social media channels, begin by listening to your customers and giving them all support they ask for.
By doing this first, you’ll avoid public pitfalls and begin building up a community of trusted customers, ready to be engaged. Just don’t make the mistake of talking about your brand without paying due attention to your customers, their conversations, their requests and complains: customer care should come first and should prepare the path for marketing and future engagement.