The importance of social media in today’s marketplace cannot be overstated. Social media makes it so much easier to grow a business and to keep in touch with customers. It’s so critical, in fact, that some companies hire a writer just to stay on top of their social media accounts and keep them full of quality content.
The problem is that many companies don’t take full advantage of the opportunities presented by social media. One area where businesses lag behind is in the customer service aspects of their social media accounts. That’s very troubling, given that the whole point of social media is to encourage two-way communication. Companies who don’t hold up their end of the social media bargain should take a moment to consider what people want from the organizations they follow.
Once upon a time, customers who were frustrated with the service they received would call an 800 number or write a letter. Today, they take to social media. Convenient for both parties, and it’s a great avenue for businesses to patch things up with customers directly… right?
Wrong. According to evolve24, about 7 of every 10 customer complaints made through Twitter are ignored by the companies that receive them. It gets worse. A study done by The Social Habit states that more than 40 percent of customers who air complaints on social media expect to receive a response within the hour. Not only are these people not getting the response they want, but they’re not being heard at all. Isn’t social media supposed to bridge the gap between companies and their customers?
Out of Sight is Not Out of Mind
Companies who choose to view social media as a one-way method of communication are fooling themselves. Any poor interaction has the chance of going viral, and ignored complaints can be even worse. According to Conversocial, 88 percent of customers who see unanswered complaints from customers are less likely to patronize that brand. Ignoring angry customers is far more damaging than the cost of allocating resources to social media.
Modest Expectations, Great Returns
The fallacy in ignoring customers on social media is that people really aren’t looking for all that much. Maritz Research states that three-quarters of people who complain on social media are simply looking for an apology. In most cases, this is the right thing to do, and it costs the company nothing.
What’s more is that the apology has long-term ramifications. A third of those surveyed in the Maritz Research study stated that they were happy just to get a response at all. Furthermore, nearly 60 percent of respondents stated that their opinion of the company was higher after receiving a social media response than it was before the incident in question took place. With numbers like those, it’s clear that a two-way social media philosophy more than pays for itself.
It can sometimes be very easy to treat social media as a mountaintop from which a company can say anything it wants to eager followers. In the long run, though, this mindset can be very dangerous. It’s guaranteed to alienate current and prospective customers alike, and it makes it impossible to build the bonds that social media was designed to cultivate. By simply listening to customers and responding to their concerns, you can build up a lot of goodwill and remind people of why they do business with your organization.
Bryan B is a freelance writer based in Long Island, N.Y. He is passionate about bad movies and bad puns, and he still thinks pro wrestling is real.