The rise of social media has been great for businesses in many ways. There’s an immediacy to the conversation between business and customer, and happy customers can spread the word faster and farther than most businesses can on their own. The downside is that it’s just as easy for disgruntled customers to post negative reviews or smear your company. There’s a misconception that if the business itself is not active on social they have nothing to worry about; reality says that people are talking about you whether or not you’re there. Your reputation is one of your most critical assets and maintaining that requires constant care and management.
The first thing a business needs to do to maintain its reputation is be aware of what people are saying in the social spaces. There are any number of monitoring tools out there to use – Hootsuite (itself a very powerful social tool) put together a short list here. Keeping an eye on the discussion around your business ensures that you won’t be surprised by the conversations.
More importantly, it gives you the opportunity to respond to questions and concerns quickly – the speed of your response makes a tremendous difference. I’ve tweeted out to companies when I’ve had an issue and gotten immediate great customer service; I’ve done it and gotten no help at all. (In one situation it was the same company, but the quality dropped dramatically between the first incident and the second.) I’ll say great things publicly when the service is quick and responsive; I’ll say negative things when I get no help or poor service. Multiply that by the hundreds or thousands of customers and their extended social networks, and it’s clear that your response to a problem or question can make or break your reputation.
The tone you use in your response is even more important than the speed. Sad to say the internet has more than its share of obnoxious residents. There is really no winning a battle with such people, but it’s essential to maintain a professional tone when dealing with angry posters. The focus here is less the chronic complainer and more the other people wandering past your site or social space. They will appreciate your willingness to help far more than the complaints of the trolls. Much as you do in your physical interactions with customers, maintaining a positive, respectful attitude with online communications is essential. It’s tempting to get into it with difficult people, but it will do more harm to your reputation than help anything.
Remember these keys:
- Watch what’s being said to you and about you online
- Respond in a timely way to praise and questions, and more quickly to complaints
- Treat your customers with basic respect even if they don’t act that way to you
Give me a call and let’s use social tools to build and maintain your reputation as a company people want to use.