This is a guest posting by Leslie Fishlock (@Genevangelist). Leslie is an Internet Marketing Evangelist and Marketing Diva. She’s also the Co-Founder of Geek Girl Camp, providing technology unconferences for women across the US. See original post on Geek Girl Camp here
The other day on Twitter, I was following a friend who tweeted about a new contest service a web applications company made for a well known hotel chain. Because my day job involves running a web applications company that creates successful web apps based on the Twitter API, I was intrigued on how the service would work as well as supporting other developers. So, I signed up. As was the protocol the contest company agreed to when I signed up, no more than 1 retweet would be made.
Needless to say, they screwed up big time. Because of the programmers not testing the application well enough before unleashing it, the application, unbeknown to me, retweeted and subsequently spammed my Twitter account to the point when others complained. The only thing I could do was change my password on my Twitter account to stop the service. Not only had a I trusted these programmers, I also trusted the large well-branded hotel chain with my information.
What happened next? Well, let’s just say the programmers took little or no responsibility (tsk tsk) but the large well-branded hotel chain did. They contacted me personally after I made it quite clear to stop spamming me. Was it effective? It was effective to me because the person managing the Twitter account got a hold of me immediately and apologized profusely. They also explained the problem as best they could and offered solutions. I also believed this person and knew her to be genuine. It wasn’t about her company telling her to do so. You can tell in her emails she was born with the innate ability to do the right thing genuinely.
In a time when the genuine aspect of humanity is hidden under lines and lines of 140 character tweets and blog posts, the brands and the people who will survive online will always be the ones willing to admit mistakes, be efficient, and on the scene before the problem gets bigger. They react in a caring and genuine way to people they have never met, while offering solutions to any problems.
If you think this is commonplace online, then you obviously are not buying a lot of items and services online and spending as much time as I do. I don’t get this service a lot online, mostly because some large brick and mortar brands are dragged kicking and screaming into using new technologies like social media for customer service. Then there are some that still don’t get it. For those that do, let’s look at these brands as the bellwether and hope that more companies, both large and small, not only use social media, but never forget that “human” aspect of being genuine and caring.
If you or your company ever gets into a brand snafu online, here are some ways to stop any hemorraghing and keep that customer.
1.) Hire the right person for your Social Media representative(s). Don’t just tell grab some young buck because you think he MUST be great on computers because he is young, or let someone who needs a job handle your online presence. Find the right person who is knowledgeable on Social Media, spells correctly, is efficient and is first and foremost your brand protector on social media sites.
2.) Find the Best Social Networks for your Brand. Some brands only use one or two social networks and that is fine. There is no need to be on hundreds of them and as long as you are committed to a few and regularly update the sites. Here is a great list of major brands who use social media. Make a plan to determine which ones are best for you. I always suggest Twitter first for many reasons, such as the speed of the conversation with you and a customer and the ability to search real-time tweets.
3.) Prevent bad things from happening. I know it sounds silly, but “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is not just an old adage, it should be in your marketing plan. Don’t leave anything hanging that people can call you on. Make sure you are taking some measures to be ready if anything happens.
4.) When something happens, react fast. I remember a story way back when Dell had not only exploding batteries but awful customer service. Instead of going on their site or blog, they chose to ignore customer complaints in the early stages of the battery disaster. It created some very resentful customers and rather pissed-off bloggers who to this day will never buy Dell. Could Dell have averted this? They most certainly could have if they were diligent and got in front of the public first.
5.) Always reach out to people. If you are using Twitter, use Twitter Search or some other tool to type in the name of your company and see what people are saying about you. No, don’t ignore them. I don’t care if you are shy, or you “don’t want to bother them” or you just don’t have time. This is the perfect opportunity to turn a problem into a win. How? Most people just want to be heard. They just want their grievance to be heard. Depriving them of this is a big mistake. Suck up your pride. Admit your fault. Apologize. And find a solution. Chances are this person will continue to use you AND might even write a blog post about this wonderful experience with you. You can’t BUY marketing like that!
6.) Make them an offer they can’t refuse. Offer them something for their discomfort. You do not need to go broke in doing so, but make them a sensible offer for their inconvenience. One that the two of you can live with. I am not saying 100% of them will be nice and accept it, but that does not matter. You do it anyway. People eventually come around on good customer service.
7.) Execute what you promised. Doing something bad is what got you into this mess, don’t mess it up again. Make sure you have an online system that tracks clients and notes how they were handled. Schedule the day you will execute what you promised. Nothing is worse than not following up on something you promised. Especially on something you promised to replace a bad experience they had originally!
8.) Thank them and don’t forget the experience. Always thank the customer for their feedback and their service. Just think if you didn’t take the time to research what people were saying about you? Things could be really bad – and you don’t even know it. Thank them for their input. And try to use the experience so this never happens again, or at least minimize the next time something happens.
This is a post by Leslie Fishlock, originally ran on the blog of Geek Girl Camp (@geekgirlcamp). The blog of Geek Girl Camp discusses a great variety of news insights and tech commentary. You can subscribe to Leslie’s writings on Geek Girk Camp’s blog or follow @genevangelist on Twitter.
Share your story of companies that have went above and beyond to resolve any issues you’ve had with their product!
- What was your issue?
- How did the company handle your issue via Twitter?
- Did the conversation take place in the open or via DM’s?
- Have you ever had to handle a bad hit to your brand or company, both online or off?
- How did you deal with it?