Last week, I had a terrible experience at a doctor’s office I’d never visited before.
The prep work for my appointment hadn’t been done, I was sent in to see the wrong specialist, and these issues were in no way addressed or remedied after I pointed out how unacceptable they were.
But the worst part, and the real reason I won’t go back, was the receptionist. She was unfeeling when I had called to move my appointment due to having the norovirus; she was unapologetic about not having done my prep work; and she was downright rude about the specialist mixup, even going so far as to imply that the mixup were my fault. I’ll never know whether the practice could have treated what ails me, or whether the right specialist was personable, because I won’t get that far. The receptionist was my first—and in this case, last—introduction to this practice as a brand.
And I got to thinking, this is why it’s so important, in this day and age, to have the right person running your company’s social media. Because for most companies, social media is the first line of defense against (loudly) unhappy customers, the first human interaction many customers will have with your brand, and the best way to keep a mistake (and we all make them) from turning into lost business or worse.
Let’s put it this way: if your website is your company’s digital storefront, then your social media manager is your company’s friendly receptionist. How can I help YOU today?
5 Ways to a Friendlier Face
1. Promote the positive.
Your social media manager’s duties will most likely overlap with those of the traditional public relations coordinator. He or she should be “socially listening” to the public’s perception of your company, and doing his or her best to enforce or change the story. They say that in successful, happy relationships, the ratio of negative to positive interactions is 5:1. Your company, I’m sure, has lots of untold positive stories. Stack the deck in your favor!
2. …But don’t ignore the negative!
One of the worst things a brand can do is ignore complaints it receives on social media, whether from poor reputation monitoring or a misguided attempt to sweep the mistake under the rug. LiveOps Research found that while 85% of consumers felt that “how a brand handles issues on their website or on social channels is a good indicator of their customer satisfaction;” a full 61% also felt that brands did not effectively communication with them on social channels. Consumers are talking about your brand online—the only question is, are you listening?
3. Apologize liberally.
A lot of the lack of professionalism I experienced in my doctor’s office mishap could have been remedied by a simple, sincere apology. I’ve heard conventional wisdom in law tells us that apologizing is akin to admitting fault and should be avoided at all costs. NOT SO ON SOCIAL. Social is all about humanizing your brand, and just as a sincere apology can go a long way in your personal relationships, so it can work wonders on erasing your consumers’ bad experiences and replacing them with good ones.
4. Go the extra mile to make things right.
Zappos is known for their legendary customer service, and their approach on social media follows suit. In the following exchange, Zappos responds to a customer complaint with (1) acknowledgment of her troubles, (2)an apology, (3) a solution, and (4) a $20 coupon for the inconvenience. That’s pretty darn close to the 5:1 positive to negative ration required to make things right! Photo found at Hubspot here: http://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/social-media-mistakes-list
5. Most importantly, connect on a HUMAN level.
That’s what social is all about! In an article on CIO.com, LiveWorld‘s Jenna Woodul says,
“People use social media because they want to interact with other people, not with some unnamed, personality-free company rep.”
In the same article, ProctorU‘s Stephanie Petelos points out,
“It annoys people when responses are automated or sound too robotic — and [that can cost you] followers. Making the extra effort to respond with a little wit can put a smile someone’s face and leave a positive impression.”
So…how friendly is your company’s digital face?