Your business may be open for customers to walk in your door from 8-5, you most likely have a CONTACT US link on your website, and you may even check your email three or four HUNDRED times a day, but what happens when someone asks a question, or worse, throws out a complaint on Twitter at 10pm? When will you see that? 10 hours later when you happen to check Twitter? Too late. That consumer has now taken the emotion they had at 10pm and had it fueled by others in Twitter Town or on Facebook, who have had similar experiences with other brands and they have given this customer suggestions similar to the ones you have had only had in your worst nightmares. Many have heard the nightmare that happened to Motrin when someone had a gripe on a Friday night and it was not addressed until Monday, but if you like scary movies, read about it again here.
The problem most businesses have is they use social media to broadcast information and promotions, paying little attention to what others have to say. Sometimes a customer will use your business name without putting the @ symbol in front of it so you won't even get that message sent to your Twitter mention's column. You must have a way to listen and monitor your brand and your industry beyond an answering machine telling your hours, or your CONTACT US form on your website. When a customer has a gripe they have learned that email is slow and calling a call center is beyond frustrating. Many people take it to the TWEETS to vent and get a response. (Click to Tweet)
In today's SOCIAL WORLD, where consumers have the tools to reach out to brands anytime and any day, you have to have tools and processes in place to listen to the “Social Grape Vine” 24/7. (Click to Tweet)
Here are our 5 suggestions to manage your online reputation 24/7:
Set Up Google Alerts.
This is a very basic 1st step. Google searches the web for your name being used on blogs or other websites. Be sure to set an alert for your name spelled correctly as well as with different variations that customers may use.
Use a Social Dashboard Like Hootsuite (Our personal favorite)
Using a social dashboard such as Hootsuite, TweetDeck or others, you can set up search columns similar to the Google Alerts, and pull tweets that are going out with your name, your competitor's name, and any variation that you would like to monitor. Remember to search for your business name with and without spaces, without the @ symbol in front, and perhaps misspelled like people may type it.
Be Quick to Apologize!
Some people feel the need to first collect data or ask the complaining person to contact you off-line BEFORE first saying “Im so sorry to hear that you had a less than perfect experience with our brand.” Say that online so others see that you are in action! Like fire mitigation, put the flames out before you start the investigation. If you have someone that needs to be notified before a resolution can be offered, at least apologize quickly and assure the customer you are going to take care of them.
Do NOT worry about deleting the comment from the social site where it was posted just yet.
We constantly advise our clients to solve the problem or address the concern in public where others may have already seen the comment. The conversation string with you addressing the problem can actually turn out to be great for others to see how you handle problems. IF it turns out that it was a misunderstanding and the customer agrees, you can ask if they will delete the comment or allow you to do so. On Twitter it is a bit different. It may have been retweeted already and your goal may have to be for the person to end up posting something favorable about how you handled the situation.
Learn from the situation.
After the fire is out, you and your team should take the feedback and the lessons learned to at least assess how you handled the situation and make any adjustments necessary. Don't let defensiveness or excuses get in your way of constantly improving. You can be right all the time and be very lonely in business! Learn to provide STELLER customer care on and off-line!
So whether you run a yogurt shop with set hours, a software company serving people around the globe or you manage a hotel that is open around the clock, be sure your social desk is open and you either hire someone to help you manage those off hours, or set up tools to manage using your mobile devices from home. Perhaps you and your team members can rotate being on watch or you can give up sleeping all together! Just tell yourself, “Sleep is over-rated!”
We'd love to hear from you–What situations have you been faced with and how did you manage it on your social sites? What other steps would you add to this list? If you need help managing the task of social media marketing or brand management give us a call, send us an email, tweet me, or close your eyes and sit silently for a moment to send the message to me telepathically!