Brands are the uninvited guests at the social media party...

Posted by Maria

April 2, 2014

In the age of social media, it’s becoming commonplace to see bad customer experiences going viral.

Just think of the ‘United Breaks Guitars’ video which has amassed over 13.7 million views to date, and the ‘world’s best complaint letter’ on Virgin’s in-flight food which resulted in a phone call from Sir Richard Branson himself.

So it’s no surprise that companies are now desperately trying to control what their customers are saying about them online. Some even have whole teams dedicated to responding to tweets and online reviews in a vain attempt at damage limitation.

But brands need to wake up to the truth – they are the uninvited guests at the social media party.

Social media is primarily used by consumers to talk to each other, not the companies they buy from. And once a Tweet, Post, Blog or Video is out there it’s too late – even if the situation can be resolved the world has already seen it.

But the good news is there’s a way to use social media to positively impact customer experience. However the method may surprise you...

1. When negative feedback is shared online it can escalate, quickly...

A customer whose guitar was damaged on a United Airlines flight wasn’t impressed by the company’s response to the incident, so he decided to make a YouTube video to highlight his experience. Within one day of the video being posted online it had amassed 150,000 views and to date it has been seen over 13.6 million times. In the weeks that followed the release, United’s stock price fell by 10%.

2. More than half of the UK adult population doesn't use social media...

A recent study from the Office for National Statistics revealed that 52% of UK adults don’t use social media. Furthermore a study by Cornell University found that half of all tweets are produced by a hardcore of 20,000 people – that’s less than 0.01% of the Twitter population. It’s important to remember that while some of your customers may choose to share their views online the vast majority don’t.

3. SMS remains the single most powerful engagement channel on the planet...

At Gartner’s recent IT Expo, analyst Nick Jones stated that “SMS remains the single most powerful real-time engagement channel on the planet.” In the midst of the Smartphone sales boom, 3G, 4G and home Wi-Fi, the simple 160-character text message is still a powerful and effective tool for customer engagement. Importantly SMS is also the perfect channel for two-way personal conversations so it’s an ideal alternative to social media.

4. By giving customers the chance to share their views with you directly, you can rescue your Ranters and turn them into Ravers!

Research shows that a customer’s repurchase probability changes from 32% to 89% when a negative issue is acknowledged and resolved. By offering customers the chance to talk to you directly in their own words via text message or a voice recording platform you can respond to them in real-time, before they feel the need to vent their frustrations online.

5. Social media monitoring can be resource intensive...

Constantly monitoring social media for customer comments is not only time consuming but it can also be a fruitless task. Only 3% of tweets are directed at a brand using the @ symbol, meaning brands are not part of the vast majority of online conversations, nor are they invited to be. By providing your customers with a direct channel to feedback straight to you there is less need for your staff to spend time actively monitoring social media, leaving them free to focus their attention elsewhere.

6. Social media might help you listen to the minority but to really capture the Voice of your Customers you need to connect with the masses and give a voice to the silent majority

Social media is always-on and always available. But by opening up a channel (such as a text message feedback line) that everyone can use, you’re making an inclusive statement to your customers – you’re listening and you care what they think. Research shows that 70% of defection is down to poor customer experience, not product or price - by capturing feedback in the moment you give your brand the opportunity to fix things there and then.

7. A continuous two-way dialogue builds customer loyalty

Harvard Business School has found that just a 5% reduction in customer defection could lead to an incredible 50% increase in profit. By engaging customers in a continuous two-way dialogue you can ensure your brand is always front of mind. The advantage of taking these conversations offline is that you can target positive customers with cross-sell, up-sell and other marketing messages which are less acceptable in public forums.

8. Engage your online Ravers and they'll become your virtual sales force

Of course there is another side to social media. Your brand advocates, or Ravers spend 3x more than any other group and are responsible for influencing up to 50% of new customers as word of mouth champions. So once you know you have a Raver, incentivising them to share their views online can have fantastic results. 90% of consumers trust the recommendations they read online more than adverts or marketing messages

Download our Infographic to find out how to collect customer feedback throughout the customer journey:

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Topics: Customer Feedback Analysis, Social Monitoring, Social Media

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