Heather is passionate about helping companies deliver marketing that is hyper-relevant to the customer and drives profit for the business. As an experienced strategist with 20 years developing integrated marketing strategies across a range of industries, she advocates a data-driven approach to marketing.

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Answering The Social Telephone

olga350New research from evolve24 came out recently on the impact on business when they fail to respond to customer complaints received via Twitter.  You might find these results surprising.

Here are the highlights:

  • Of the 1298 complainants, only 29% of Twitter complaints received a response (71% did not!)
  • Half of respondents expected the company to read their tweet
  • As respondents increase in age, so did their expectation that the company would respond
  • Of the almost 1/3 that did receive a response, 83% “liked” or “loved” receiving a response, and 74.4% were “very satisfied” or “somewhat satisfied”

The big question is, why are 71% of companies failing to respond when customers contact them? This is especially problematic when numerous studies show that customers whose complaints are resolved are more likely to speak highly of a company then if they’d never had a complaint in the first place!

The Social Telephone

Whether you intend it or not, having a presence on Twitter tells your customers that you’re willing to actively engage with them on that level. Businesses that elect to have a presence on the ‘social telephone’ must be prepared to answer it when it rings.  But as this research clearly shows, they don’t.  Why?

Our experience has shown us that fear is a big issue.  Fear that the company will be involved in a negative conversation.  Fear that an issue will escalate into a public relations nightmare.

But if you’re failing to deliver on your brand promise, a negative conversation is already taking place. You’ve lost the opportunity to turn a complainant into a brand advocate, and that sort of negative review can spread like wildfire.

Example: A Real Customer Service #Fail

Recently while doing online banking I had tried and failed repeatedly to download my credit card statements.  After 24 hours of error messages, I tweeted the company.  Four days later I received a response from the Community Manager telling me that she was forwarding my issue on.  I had notified them of a system-wide issue, which they then communicated out via Twitter.

After this point I was never contacted by anyone. To make matters worse, when the issue was  finally resolved it was never tweeted out.

This company had an opportunity to ‘wow’ me with their service and instead they showed me they aren’t really interested in customer service or keeping my business.  I looked at their tweeting history and found that all of their tweets were promotional in nature.  This leads me to wonder, why do they even have a community manager?

..And A #Win!

In contrast, I recently tweeted that I was looking for new hydration belts to use when I run.  I currently have a Fuelbelt, but was re-evaluating.  Shortly after, Fuelbelt sent me a tweet about one of their new products and I responded by asking if the leaking cap issue had been fixed.  They told me caps should never leak – then sent me 4 replacement caps in the mail!

Instead of moving to a competitor’s product, they’ve secured my business.  They’ve also benefited from a ton of positive word of mouth marketing (and not just from me, but from others too).

What’s The Difference?

In the second example, it’s obvious that the company has made a conscious decision to embrace social media AND ensured that they have adequate resources to engage with the community in a timely and personal way.

Social media is not a free megaphone to shout at your market with. It’s a two-way, time-sensitive communication channel which requires a resource commitment and often a shift in how you approach your customer service. You need to participate in the conversation when it’s happening, not days or weeks later. Employees need to be empowered to do the right thing without having to escalate each issue up to the top.

Address a concern and you could win a lifelong customer. Ignore complaints and you’re sending a very public message: “We don’t care.”

Have you had a particularly good or bad experience after providing feedback to a company using a social channel?