The days of being able to easily cover up internal and external problems in business are quickly coming to a close. Customer service issues are becoming public relations problems as people are taking their complaints to social networks instead of (or in addition to) a more traditional customer service department. People today like seeing something real in the companies and brands they are loyal to. Some organizations get it, but far too many don’t.
Some businesses, which I won’t name here, like to give the appearance of caring by establishing a Twitter account and apologizing to one out of every ten complaints that are directed their way. They’ll use it to promote their big product and respond to every compliment they see. This is an obvious illusion, and one that the vast majority of regular people can see through in an instant.
In this day in age, people respect something real and genuine from both businesses and individuals. They recognize the attempts to minimize issues and expand on achievements far too easily. Brag about things that are going right, but be realistic. I’d be far more interested in a brand that owns their failures and turns them in to successes through solving the problem and taking steps to resolve it for every customer.
Timeliness is also key to successfully leveraging social media to your advantage. Letting a situation grow and fester to the point of becoming viral can be detrimental to your business. Keeping an active lookout for situations and addressing them as they come will nip potentially explosive situations in the bud and do more to improve how the public perceives your company. You want members of the public to say, “You know, they messed up there – but they took action and made sure the issue was resolved.”
This is one of the core reasons why transparency is important in business. By taking action and providing a resolution you’ve shown that you care, and most people would trust a brand that cares about righting the wrongs more than one that tries to pretend everything is perfect, all the time.
The growth of social media has given consumers and businesses alike incredible tools to communicate with each other and connect in ways that was never possible before. Now, instead of requiring countless hours of research to make an educated guess as to what your customers want, you can simply ask them and likely end up with a much more accurate response. Companies that get it are flourishing, even during these tough economic times.