The Importance of Being Earnest: Why We Need to Do More Than Just Listen on Social

Aug 10, 2015 Jill Rosenthal

It can be said that the last few years have brought about a change in human nature. No, people are not yet implanted with GPS chips, nor can we access superpowers like invisibility or mind-reading (how fun that would be!). Over the last 7+ years, people have become braver. Yep – you read it here first. People are braver because social media has provided a platform to be as “honest” as we feel - irrespective of politeness - especially in the area of customer service.

It can also be said that the advent of social media has blurred the lines between typical 9-5 and on-demand service – and customers have upped the ante and expect a representative at the other end of the phone or computer at any time of day. Should that not happen, we feel very brave from the behind the safety of our keyboards and free to flex our social muscles and proclaim our sentiments via social – for all the online world to see. Research finds that 59 percent of 25-34 year-olds share poor customer experiences online.

This is not actually a bad thing for companies of all shapes and sizes. If businesses are actively listening on social media and responding to happy/unhappy customers in a timely fashion, this can become an opportunity to turn a bad experience on its head – and even gain a loyal customer. Close collaboration between social teams and customer service departments allows socially-savvy businesses to flag complaints in real-time all while having the processes in place to turn complaints into future revenue. Customers who receive great service via social media will spend 21 percent more money. And no brand will turn its nose up at revenue.

Personally, I’ve utilized social for customer service dozens of times – Comcast responds to and deals with service issues in real time and they do a great job. JetBlue is also super when it comes to dealing with passengers and their issues. For me, these positive experiences really leave a mark, and I always feel satisfied resolving an issue without picking up a phone.

So what do brands actually need to do to meet our standards??

A study by Lithium Technologies found that 53 percent of customers who ask a brand a question on Twitter expect a response within one hour regardless of what time they tweet, with that number rising to 72 percent if it’s a complaint. Sadly, not all companies do a great job of responding quickly, possibly forfeiting business to competitors. Another study found that only 11.2 percent of retail brands respond to questions within one hour; in fact most take 24 hours. But what’s a stake for slow to react brands? Maybe you’ll just lose a customer – never a good thing. At worst you’ll have to deal with a Twornado (Twitter tornado) that creates more work for the social manager, always with the possibility of having a viral effect. BAD.

At InkHouse, we listen using a social media tool called Brandwatch (full disclosure: also a client). We believe it’s important that we know the whole story – from the good to the bad to the ugly – and that you should too. Just as we value solid listening in our personal lives to gather useful information, keep up with trends in real time and just be in the know, so should we be aggressively pursuing our online brands for the very same reason – and in both cases, it can really affect decision making and the bottom line.

Topics: Public Relations, Technology, Twitter, Facebook, Social Media

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