1 Good Reason – Social Marketing

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But what if someone says something bad about us?

June 21st, 2010 · 2 Comments

The most common objection we receive as social media evangelists when we tell companies they need to start communicating with their customers is this, “But what if someone says something bad about us?”

This objection is based on the premise that our politicians have set that we don’t need to apologize for things we’ve done wrong if we never admit it. (see Bill Clinton re: Monika Lewinski or George Bush re: Iraq War)

In the real world when you step on someone’s toe you need to apologize.  And when you sell someone a garbage product that doesn’t do what it should, you need to apologize for it.  So the rest of this blog post applies if your company is attempting to make a good product and improve it when you find it lacking.  If you’re happy selling crap that doesn’t work, stop reading now.

About Social Media Complaints

First, remember they are the tip of the iceberg.  90% of people on Social Networks say very little (remember the 90/9/1 rule). So consider the complainer to be one tenth of the actual complaints out there.  And remember that the other nine are likely reading the complaint and saying “yea, that happened to me too!”  So you need to give the complaint the attention and importance of 10 Times the actual volume of them you receive.

If they say something bad about your product, your company, or your service here’s what you do:

1.       First, this is a good thing- it’s feedback about your company that you need to evaluate and see if there’s room for improvement. 

a.       Is the complaint valid?

b.      Is this a systemic problem or a single event?

c.       Can you with your present constraints (budget, personnel, etc.) fix it?

2.       If the complaint is valid and can be fixed, then reply to the customer and tell them so.  Tell them what you are going to do to fix it.  And how you’ll make it right for them personally.  You don’t need to offer them free product, or money back (unless you’ve ruined their wedding, etc.).  Beware of the “what’s in it for me” syndrome.  Often during complaints people move from supplicant, to greedy quickly when they smell blood in the water.

3.       If the complaint is valid but can’t be fixed- (example: It’s the wrong  shade of blue, or the shipping takes too long.) Tell the customer you understand their problem, and the company understands and wants to help but simply can’t in this case.  But you will work on making it better in the future.

4.       If the complaint is invalid- See #3 above.  We understand and would like to help but simply can’t make our boat into a plane right now.

Remember that most people who are complaining simply want to know that they are being heard.  And people when reading these saga’s online tend to throw out the most strident either pro or con.  If you don’t understand this, take at look at Amazon reviews of a product you are familiar with.  Read several of the reviews you will quickly see the people who are complaining too loudly or praising too highly.  We all have this built in BS meter, and it works online too.  Trust the intelligence of your customer to understand that sometimes people are complaining about something that has nothing to do with what’s really bothering them.

The Big Payoff

And finally the big payoff for engaging in social media is the point you reach when your customer advocates start to come to bat for you.  This happens every time a company starts in engaging in social media.  A prime example of this is the AT&T Facebook page which I profiled in this blog post.  At first you need stick up for yourself. But after a short while your advocates will come out and defend you.  This is especially true when the complaint is invalid.

You’ve reached the high ground in social media when you find yourself watching as your customers defend you against invalid complaints.  And you’re left to deal only with the true mistakes and foul ups.  And this will come more quickly than you think, for AT&T in the above example it took less than 6 weeks.

Give me 1 Good Reason you don’t engage in social media?

Photo Credit: Flickr, Uploaded on February 18, 2008 by Martin Kingsley

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Tags: Reasons For Net Marketing · Truthful Tuesday

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