Ah, the consumer voice; powerful, resonant, relentlessly present. Regardless of any move that you make as a company, whether it’s a new product release, a decision to partner with another brand, or a simple public event that you’ve attended; you never know what the consumer will have to say about it. The only thing you can know for certain: the voice will be there.
The emergence of popular social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter have created open platforms for consumers to voice their opinions to their favorite (or most hated) brands. These days, nothing goes unsaid. Consequently, with this open window for consumer’s voices, also comes a huge opportunity for companies.
Responding to consumers – the right way – across social media platforms is one of the most powerful forms of reputation management today. Large corporations are quickly learning that harnessing social media is an important tactic for brand management. For example, PepsiCo Inc has created a “Mission Control” team for Gatorade, with a specific team of employees whose sole job it is to search social media websites and respond directly to any comments or complaints.
Adhere to the simple steps below and you will be on the right road to retaining your most valued assets; your customers.
Step 1: Quick to Respond
With reputation management, timing is everything. Every second you wait to respond to a customer’s complaint is a second wasted. The quicker you respond to a complaint, the more caring you will appear, and in turn, you will increase your consumer’s chances of feeling appreciated.
For instance, Home Depot recently used Twitter to address a complaint about their delivery services. Within one hour of the complaint, the company responded and asked the consumer directly for their order number and personal contact information so they could fix the problem.
Step 2: Be Clear
If a consumer has a complaint, don’t further annoy them by simply beating around the bush; address the problem head-on. Be honest and to the point, your sincerity will surprise and impress them.
Step 3: Use a Friendly Tone
Never by any means allow yourself to sound overly defensive. The point is to make the customer happy, so accept and embrace any and all of their comments with open arms. Stay positive while offering alternatives, and always be sure to thank them for their feedback.
Step 4: Offer Alternatives
Simply apologizing for a problem is not enough. Our consumers want more than just a “sorry” – they want results. Be sure to offer a useful yet feasible solution to their problem.
Step 5: Follow Up
Make sure that your advice actually made a difference to the consumer. Send a follow up email or Facebook message to make sure that their problem has been resolved. While this last step may seem time consuming, in the long run it could prove as one of the most important steps in retaining your customers.
It’s inevitable that your company will receive complaints at some point or another, so the next time you receive a complaint, address it directly. Rather than miss an opportunity to fix the problem, face it head on; your customers will notice.