As a small business owner, it’s your responsibility to address customer complaints and ensure that customers receive superior customer service—at least that’s what you have to do if you want to be successful.
With the emergence of social media, many businesses have faced complaints that have been exposed to the public. Nearly a century ago, if consumers had an issue with a business, they would contact that company’s complaint or customer service department via phone. Today, not only can consumers contact a customer service department via phone to complain, but they can also express those complaints to their entire online network of friends, acquaintances, and friends of friends. No longer are complaints only powered by word of mouth to a few nearby friends and family members. Now, these complaints remain alive online and have the potential to become viral and even global.
I would think that consumers are also more likely to find the courage to post a complaint on social networking sites than they are to pick up the phone and speak directly to someone. Not to mention, no one ever wants to sit on hold while elevator music plays for 30 minutes before speaking to someone. Social media is instantaneous and effective for consumers to express their complaints.
According to an article on WebProNews, “When consumers were asked which method they used most frequently to communicate, 37 percent said SMS followed by Facebook and the phone at 28 percent. Respondents feel that email is now less important than social media, but only 20 percent said they could live without it entirely.”
What does this mean for you? Well, let’s do the math. If you get one customer who had a bad experience and uses Facebook as his or her main source of communication to chat with friends, and he or she mentions this experience on Facebook, now all of this person’s friends, connections, and friends of friends will see this complaint. And now these friends have the ability to chime in by commenting, sharing it with their friends, or even sharing it on a whole new social networking site, with just the click of a button. Now, you don’t have one angry customer on your hands, you’ve got a few. And by a few it could range anywhere from three to thousands!
When a complaint is placed on social media, you no longer just have to make one person happy by addressing their complaint, now your company has to work even harder (speaking to more individuals as oppose to just you) to counteract a negative experience.
This post isn’t meant to scare you, it’s merely meant to expose you to reality and inform you of what could happen to your brand if you’re not active on social media, speaking to your customers, and addressing their needs.
Don’t forget to visit our blog tomorrow for Part II of this post, which focuses on tips you can use to handle and prevent negative online PR.