It’s all very well and good having an SEO expert come in to help bump you up the Google rankings and get on the first page of search results for all your keywords, but if you don’t play your part and run your business in a friendly consumer-facing way across the board, your online visibility isn’t going to matter all that much. You’re not likely to improve your following if all everyone sees about you on the internet is just how bad your customer service is – and these days, it’s all too easy for people to let the rest of the world know how much and in how many different ways you’ve succeeded in letting them down. Thanks, Facebook. Thanks, Twitter.
You and your SEO expert simply can’t afford to ignore the power of social networking any more when it comes to running a business. Bloggers are increasingly influential across all types of industry and can make or break a brand depending on what they write about, so you need to do all you can to keep them sweet and treat your customers with the respect they deserve, no matter how badly you want to tell them about themselves. One bad online review can easily snowball and go viral, dragging your business reputation through the digital mud – never think to yourself, oh, it’s just one person, just one opinion, what’s the worst that could happen? It’s probably best not to try and find out.
However, it’s not just how you treat your customers in the first instance that matters. You aren’t going to win them all and bad reviews are inevitable, but it’s how you handle your online interactions when this happens that will win over the crowds (or alienate them even further). If someone does take to Twitter to voice their opinion, don’t ignore them (as tempting as it might well be), respond in a timely fashion and remain cool, calm and collected – even if you’re speaking to an idiot. Go home later and stab a potato with a fork or something, just be as helpful and polite as you can be on social media!
Here are some examples of best and worst practice when it comes to dealing with your customers via social networking sites. Got any horror stories of your own or an example of stellar customer service? Share and share away!
1. Hawke & Co
Sarcasm is typically thought of as the lowest form of wit and US clothing company Hawke & Co managed to prove this spectacularly well when one of its customers complained about a cancelled order. An apology for the exchange was later issued by director of marketing and branding Daniel Montelongo, but the damage may well have been done.
Chocolate brand Nestle is a great example of what not to do on Facebook, when it lost hundreds of followers after responding to customer posts on its page in a very defensive and antagonistic manner. It had asked people not to use altered versions of its logo in their profile pictures or their comments would be deleted, which provoked some interesting reactions from its fan base.
3. Amy’s Baking Company
You’d think that appearing on a show like Gordon Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares would do wonders for a business. Not so for Amy’s Baking Company Bakery Boutique & Bistro in Arizona. A few raised eyebrows were seen online after the owners started fights with their customers, admitted that they’d fired over 100 staff members and stole tips. Here’s how they made it much, much worse on Facebook.
Here’s how to do that social media thing to absolute perfection. An online interaction between one of Netflix’s customer service team and a user who was having trouble with streaming a video developed into one of the best web-based chats the internet’s ever seen and is a shining example of how, if used appropriately, social media can be the perfect platform for responding to and building relationships with clients.
2. Citi Bikeand J. Crew
Thinking outside the box and doing something unexpected always goes down well on social media. Back in 2013, Citi Bike won a few more hearts after Paull Young fell off his bike on his way to work, which he tweeted about saying his trousers were ruined under the hashtag #PLEASESENDPANTS. His tweets were picked up by the brand and they quickly sent him some J. Crew gift cards so he could buy some new jeans.
3. Morton’s Steakhouse
You’ll do a lot to raise your profile if you go above and beyond, just like Morton’s Steakhouse which responded to a customer tweet in a spectacular fashion. Author Peter Shankman was starving at an airport but food options were sadly lacking, so he jokingly tweeted one of his favourite restaurants to see if they’d meet him at the airport and bring him a steak. What happened next was rather unbelievable.
Quick-fire Social Media Tips
- Respond quickly.
- Avoid automated messages.
- Make sure you and your SEO expert know what hashtags are for before adopting them for your own use.
- Think before you type.
- Humour can go a long way on social media but just make sure it’s appropriate.