Social media sites present businesses with a great opportunity to enhance their customer service efforts. They can also become a major liability for companies who ignore customer service issues that arise on those pages. I’ve recently encountered examples of both.

A recent lunch outing with my Haley Marketing colleagues brought us to the local Panera Bread shop. Though I usually love the chain’s food options, I was disappointed in the sandwich I received that day. As a social media user, I decided to “tweet” my complaint along with a picture of my sandwich to Panera, rather than complaining to the manager face-to-face.

Instead of offering to do something about my crappy sandwich, the Twitter response I got from Panera was “next time show the manager.” Well that sure wasn’t helpful. I know I’m probably not the only person who isn’t always comfortable confronting a restaurant manager. That’s what’s so great about social media! It’s a way to communicate with people and businesses that feels safe, and less confrontational. So now, not only was I disappointed in my overpriced crappy sandwich, but I was also frustrated with Panera’s subpar customer service. Certainly not a way to build customer loyalty. The chances of me going back to Panera for lunch any time soon decreased significantly after that. And I was letting all my coworkers, as well as my friends and family know why.

Another lunch break found me at Wegman’s (a local grocery chain) where I had a similar experience. I grabbed some dim sum (Chinese dumplings) takeout and headed back to the office. When I started eating I discovered that the dumplings had paper stuck to them and when I tried to pull it off, half of my dumpling went with it. Again, I decided to tweet a picture of my meal and mention the company. This time, instead of an “oh well better luck next time,” Wegmans immediately responded with ACTION. They asked what location I had my bad experience at so that they could prevent it from happening again, AND I had a gift certificate for a free lunch in my mailbox within a few days. You can bet that I’ve gone back to Wegman’s for lunch again since that day, and I will continue to do so.

Wegmans dim sum lunch

 

What about staffing companies?

A staffing agency can use or abuse their social media pages the same way as your local lunch spot. Let’s say a candidate tweets about a bad experience they had on the job, or a client tweets that they were disappointed with the talent you provided. If you give either a useless response, or no response at all, it’s going to be bad for your business. If, however, your response shows that candidate that you are going to do what is in your power to make it right, chances are that candidate is going to become an advocate for your company.

If you find, like a client of ours recently did, that a candidate has left a barrage of negative comments on your facebook page, don’t do what they did and just delete it. Ignoring the problem isn’t going to make that person stop saying bad things about your business, and it’s not going to improve any of your internal issues that are causing the problem. The best thing you can do is address the comments directly where they’re posted, so everyone can see that you’re actively responding to someone’s negative experience with your company. That can turn not only the complainer, but also other readers into advocates for your company.

Of course I realize that everyone can’t spend their entire day monitoring their social media pages. But it’s certainly a good idea to check them at least a few times a day so that you can address any customer service issues that might arise. You can also adjust the settings on all of your pages so that you receive email alerts any time someone posts something on your facebook wall, or mentions you in a tweet. Tools like Google Alerts and Social Mention can also help you  monitor mentions of your company online.

If you need help setting up your social media pages, or have questions about how you should respond to someone posting on your sites, Haley Marketing is here to help!

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