Managing Customer Responses Received via Social Media

“Social media will help you build up loyalty of your current customers to the point that they will willingly, and for free, tell others about you.” – Bonnie Sainsbury

We have discussed several times, and any business owner would know that responding to customer responses, received via social media or any other channel, is critical to success. We are talking about both positive and negative comments and responses. Companies sometimes make the fatal mistake of ignoring these comments, most often the positive ones, in the belief that they would be unable to do much about them. Sometimes companies also err by responding to comments but fail to follow up on the promise or action items they commit to customers. In both situations, customers could become intensely irate and even vengeful at times, which can easily be the undoing of all the efforts of a company.

Managing customer responses must be done with the same regularity and consistency that a company applies when ‘chasing’ potential customers. The message that a company would send out through consistent and high value responses, is that it is dedicated and passionate about its customers. Customers love a company that pays attention to them and remains agile to their responses and comments, either on social media or through any other channel. It is vital for a company to understand that social media is a ‘dialogue’ – which means that both sides must ‘converse’ in order to maintain a successful relationship. Putting in place and constantly monitoring guidelines and a policy for managing customer responses via social media, would ensure that all those in the company responsible for the ‘conversations’ would know how and when to take action. Whatever the frequency and style of managing customer responses, it is important for a company to ensure that appropriate reverts and action are in place to do so. This is true of both negative and positive comments and responses from customers.

Managing customer responses is also a part of great customer service. Given that social media is such a high visibility and far-reaching platform, ignoring customer responses via this channel, could be potentially ‘fatal to the health’ of a company. It is necessary for a company to stay in control of social media conversations that serve as feedback for the offerings / brand of the company. It is vital for a company to let customers know that their responses and feedback has been heard and that as a company you would respond to them and would take appropriate action. According to a study, at least 80% of customer service queries via social media, go unheard and unseen by companies. The fact is that customers are increasingly using this channel to connect with companies, and express their service needs. Companies however, seem to be failing at keeping pace with managing customer responses. Every company needs a strategy and guidelines to ensure that this does not remain an issue and that customers receive swift responses to their feedback and comments.

What strategy does your company have in place to ensure that it is managing customer responses effectively on social channels?  The most important thing in this respect is to respond and do so swiftly. Just as it would not be acceptable to ignore customers interacting with your company face-to-face, ignoring them via social media is also unacceptable, and is in fact worse. This is so because while real world stores may close after some hours, social media is always ‘awake’ – customers can choose to interact via this medium whenever they want and from wherever they are. If a company does not provide suitable action and reverts to customer responses, customers could view this as the company’s way of ignoring them, and they would soon leave. While having staff to respond round the clock may not always be possible, companies can leverage the power of technology by sending out an automated message that would provide guidelines and timelines indicating when they would receive a revert, and action from someone at the company.

It is vital to a business’ success to let customers know at all times that, the company is listening. This makes for great customer service. If a customer has taken the time and made the effort to provide feedback to a company, it would behove a company to respond in some way and definitely show appreciation for the customer’s time and effort. It would be prudent to thank the customer for staying with the company, and apologise if it is a complaint, or show gratitude if the customer may have complimented the company. When customers know that your company is paying attention, they would be more amenable to give your company a chance to rectify a problem, and would be encouraged to share their positive experiences with others. Managing customer responses speedily and effectively, would get your company a lot of positive attention via the potent and visible, social media – this would prove to be highly beneficial for any company. In order to maintain great relationships with all customers, it is essential that a company make time and effort to respond to all kinds of customer responses.

While we have been discussing that, a company must respond to all responses from customers, we will talk about managing customer complaints in a bit more detail. The reason for this is that a single complaint and negative response could prove to be potentially damaging for a company, while a single positive comment does not have as much of a dramatic reaction. Customers stay with or return to a company because of positive experiences they have. A big part of great customer experiences is the company’s efforts to rectify a wrong, and taking every effort to resolve an issue or complaint the customer may have. Making a wrong, right is a great way to delight customers, and get them to spread positive comments about your company, even on social media. Responding speedily and effectively on a public medium such as social media would gain a lot of respect and positive attention for any company, which in turn would serve to add to the reputation and business of a company.

Managing customer responses is all about timing and knowing whether your company should respond to a group of customers or to each one individually. Experts recommend individual responses, and even though it may not be possible to do so in a single day, the company must definitely send out an ‘umbrella’ response to all customers who may have made comments. A company must thank them for their time and business, and encourage them to interact with your company consistently. Every such customer response is actually an opportunity given by customers for a company to improve and strengthen its relationship with them. Those that use these opportunities to engage customers are the companies that usually succeed. Providing individual and customized responses, brings out the humane side of a company, which is something that customers love.

It is possible that some negative comments via social media could require a private medium for its resolution. Managing customer responses, which are negative, is always better in a focused manner, via private forum. An angry customer could easily become vicious and argumentative, which in turn could tarnish the reputation of the company, and managing such ‘behaviour’ via social media is not only difficult, it is also imprudent. It would be better to take such ‘negativity’ offline, and address the customer’s concerns individually and with complete attention.

Managing customer responses via social media is critical since every feedback and insight from customers, especially via a visible platform, is an opportunity. It is an opportunity for a company to improve, create awareness about its offerings, and keep its customers engaged and interested in whatever it does. Instead of shelling out huge amounts to collect customer responses, it would be prudent for a company to utilize the free and useful customer feedback via social media. Managing customer responses via social media intelligently can prove to a potent tool for any company / any business.

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