The power of social media when used in the right way is undeniable, but used in the wrong way it can be detrimental to a brands efforts.

In this context I will be debating that brands are spending too much time, effort and money in reacting to social media feedback and not enough in opening up direct channels with customers that give them the ability to ACT – preventing negative comments from turning into full fledged rants.

A recent report, ‘Mastering Digital Feedback1’ by Tata Consultancy Services found last year organisations spent £11 million on managing social media feedback – a scary stat considering only 3% of tweets are actually sent to the brand involved using the @ symbol2. Now consider that 43% of UK adults don’t use social media3 and the case for social media rapidly declines.

There is another way…
With that said it’s undeniable that social is growing and will continue to grow at a rapid pace in 2014. So why is it customers are turning to social to vent their frustrations? It breaks down to two key reasons:

  1. Social is EASY
  2. It’s a great way to name and shame brands

Let’s take both these points individually:

  1. Yes social is easy but there are other channels that are just as easy (if not easier), its just brands have a knack of making customer feedback extremely difficult. What if customers could simply text their feedback directly to a brand at any ‘moment of truth®’ and get a response? Well the answer is they can, and are… Brands like East Coast Trains and Colchester University Hospital are already using this method with great results4.
  2. When customers turn to social it isn’t to get a response, it’s to let the whole world know the terrible experience they have had. If you deal with an issue directly with a customer it’s less likely to turn into a rant and broadcast on social media for the whole world to see. Another benefit for the brand is when customers’ issues are recovered their repurchase probability changes from 32-89%!5

Using social media the right way – mobilising your customers to create a virtual sales force

Now you’ve recovered your unhappy customers comes the exciting part – using social media to your advantage.

One of my pet hates is when customers are asked the NPS question:
How likely is it you would recommend us to a friend”, customers identify themselves as promoters and all a brand says is ‘thank you’.

Surely what they should be saying is:
Great, thanks! We’d love it if you’d share your thoughts on social media” and then give customers the ability to immediately share their views at a click of a button.

This becomes more apparent when you hear what marketing professor, Philip Kotler has to say:
Advocates will do your marketing for you if you mobilise them, listen to them and engage them6

Getting the right mix
Ultimately it’s a combination of lots of different channels that will enable you to listen and act to the voice of your customers. A consistent, multi-channel approach will make it convenient for customers to get their voices heard and will make it easy for a brand to recover situations and amplify positive word of mouth.

Social like mystery shopper programmes and in-depth surveys will remain key research tools but I urge you to look at other channels before relying on these to listen to the voice of your customers.

Got an opinion? Why not send me some direct feedback or if you want the whole world to see why not tweet me @yiannismaos
To find out more about this subject you can read Rapide’s latest paper:
8 reasons it pays to be anti-social: http://rantandrave.com/resources/infographic-8-reasons-why-it-pays-to-be-anti-social/

About the author:

Yiannis is Digital Marketing Manager at Rapide, a customer engagement company specialising in solutions that drive advocacy to half of the FTSE. He has over 7 years experience working in Voice of the Customer and has been recognised by being given a scholarship to the prestigious Marketing Academy and awarded Central England’s Young Entrepreneur of the Year.
To get more information from Yiannis on customer experience and digital marketing you can:
Follow Yiannis’ tweets: @yiannismaos
Connect on LinkedIn: uk.linkedin.com/in/yiannismaos/

About Rapide
Rapide provide customer engagement solutions that drive advocacy to half of the FTSE.
Their proactive communication and fast feedback technology enables their clients to increase revenue and reduce churn by listening and reacting to the voice of their customers in real-time.

References:

1http://www.tcs.com/social-business-study/pages/default.aspx
2http://cdn1.hubspot.com/hub/154001/Conversocial_A_Day_in_the_life_of_Brands_on_Twitter.pdf
3http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/rdit2/internet-access—households-and-individuals/2013/sty-ia-2013.html
4http://rantandrave.com/assets/Uploads/Case-Studies/New-Case-Studies/Rapide-Case-Studies-East-Coast-Trains.pdf
5http://www.sjssolutions.com/customer-care
6http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=q0hh8VXLmQkC&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false

*Moments of Truth® is a trademark of Rant & Rave® and Rapide Communication Ltd

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