No more than a decade ago, companies didn’t really have to worry about the harmful effects of a bad customer experience on brand identity. The reason is simple: we didn’t have Facebook, there was no Twitter, LinkedIn or TripAdvisor.
In the pre-social media era, how many people could an angry customer reach with a negative message about you? Close friends and relatives, in the worst-case scenario. A number between 9 and 15 people. Probably not enough to damage the brand image and ruin your business. Well, those times are long gone.
Facebook & Co. have become so essential that you can’t even talk about a digital or content marketing strategy without including social media. You can't shelter behind those 15 people anymore. Wait just a few minutes after a complaint or a bad comment on your page, and the negative vibes will soon reach thousands of people around the world.
Now consider this:
an average Twitter user has 208 followers;
an average Facebook user has 350 friends;
an average LinkedIn user has 610 connections.
Imagine what would happen if even just a humble 10 percent of those Internet users decides to share with their network a comment about the faulty experience you just offered. In the reality of today’s hyper-connected world, one single bad customer experience might kill you if you can’t deal with it as fast as you can.
This is not to say that brands didn’t care about customer satisfaction before; simply, the effects of a negative review would not spread so far and wide in such a short time. Traditional customer service is not enough powerful to ensure you the ability to deal with the consequences of unhappy clients promptly and properly.
Social media have simply given customers so much power over their connections with businesses that you can only ignore social dynamics at your own peril. Any single channel offers clients a new - easy and different - way to engage with you and share opinions and frustrations; you must cover them all to really know what’s going on around your brand.
It's a fact: more and more clients choose to reveal dissatisfaction about customer experience using these tools, and they won’t wait till they get home to let you know how they feel; they will do it right away, using the apps on their smartphones. In the age of mobile mind shift, the widespread availability of disruptive devices makes it more urgent than ever to answer real-time, wherever they are and whenever they need it.
You can easily see the consequences of this evolution for your business:
You can’t hide: whether you like social networks or not, neglect is not the answer. If you ignore them, that doesn’t mean you’re not online. Customers will talk about you anyway. Isn’t it far better if you control the agenda?
Advocacy is essential: when any single person can reach hundreds with a single post, customer retention becomes way more critical than acquisition. Loyalty and engagement strategies are keys to cultivate your social presence and nurture your community.
By their very nature, social connections favor a profitable two-ways communication that helps you to fix bad customer experience and encourage positive engagement. Most customers don't expect perfection; they just expect that you work to improve your high standards and take action whenever something goes wrong.
How can you be sure you're moving in the right direction? Starting from the following 3 steps:
Social conversations are going on all the time: some involve you directly and some are out of your control. The best way to know if something is happening is to listen. You need to be monitoring social media platforms, forums and communities all the time. It's a full time duty. Comments and opinions could come from unexpected places, and you don’t want to wait too long to address the next issue. Response time is the key.
There is nothing worse than unanswered posts on Facebook or tweets on Twitter. Customers (almost) never expect that you solve their problems in a couple of minutes, but they surely demand that you are there to take-charge and reassure them. How quickly you can answer will determine the tone of conversation. And once you have found a solution, make it public and let everybody know.
The ability to manage social media pressure is not innate. It is half natural instinct and half constant improvement. The evolution of digital relationships makes it necessary to face the new challenges with open eyes and mind. Everyday new social networks born and die, everyday behaviors evolve and customers become more informed and demanding. Don't be afraid to try new solutions and approaches, and rely on analytics data to understand what - and how - you should improve.
At the end of the day, you can keep considering social media as a threat to avoid and fight, or you can understand and embrace the beneficial effects of a proactive social media listening. You don’t have to replace your customer service process but you must consider social connections as vital touch points of your customer journey map. Only then social media will work as your 24/7 public relations agency.
If you want to know how to effectively add social media to your digital customer experience, download the free DCX 7-Steps Checklist crafted by Neosperience, with requirements and insights for a successful digital transformation.