If a tree posts a status update in the woods, will anyone read it?

Social media has become an integral part of how you can manage your customer relationships.  It provides ways to instantly interact with people who have done business with you and can be a terrific tool to find out what the buzz in the marketplace is about your products and services. However,  anyone familiar with the Net Promoter system is well aware that “detractors” tend to be much more vocal than “promoters”.  That is why it is so important to be aware of what is being posted about your business and to immediately address concerns/complaints that your customers might have.  Many times it is possible to flip a detractor to a promoter about your company simply by listening, acknowledging and attempting to offer a resolution to their complaint.  Customers like to feel as though their voice is important, and responding to their posts, however negative they may seem, not only can correct the situation, but will also prove to others that may read it that you are serious about customer care and that you will respond if an issue arises. Likewise, customers also like to feel appreciated if they take the time to post praise about a company. Acknowledging them can help them feel an even stronger sense of connection and advocacy for your brand.  It is very important that happy customers do not feel ignored. Plus retweeting/reposting a happy customer’s tweet will not only make them feel important, but also serves as an unpaid customer testimonial validating the quality of your products/services.

Social media makes these interactions much easier than they were even 10 years ago.  In the past, customers were forced to mail a letter or look up a 1-800 number to call to communicate with a business. Not only were the business costs to responding to these much higher, but there was also a much longer lag in response time. Neither of these are appealing for creating a good brand image.

This leads us to an important question-What are your customers/prospects saying about you now?

There are many websites that allow reviews of local businesses. Is it part of your company PR policy to regularly review these sites and respond to posts when necessary?  Do you encourage your happy customers to post their thoughts on these sites? If not, you are probably doing your company a big disservice.  Customer reviews have become a vital part of everything from Google Maps location reviews to LinkedIN profiles.  Many people use these reviews to make their purchasing decision.  Happy customers should be strongly encouraged to leave positive reviews, even if you have to offer an incentive.  Each recommendation that you receive will make others more likely to do business with you AND because of the way Google etc. do their algorithms, also help boost your company’s website search rankings.

Even if you make customer service your top priority, unhappy customers can eventually be inevitable. Everyone has heard the old phrase “the customer is always right” but most people who have ever worked in  location involving the general public will disagree with that statement.  However, people are much more likely to patronize a location that responds to an unhappy customer and at least makes a reasonable attempt to placate their concerns.

Most companies do a pretty good job about addressing customer posts on Facebook and Twitter, but make a list of all of the social media sites that your business is listed on and check to see what is being said.  There are probably a lot more than you might realize. This is a great way to see what is working and what is not.  Once you have this information, make sure you use it to determine how to strengthen and grow your business. While the customer may not always be right, they can always tell you what you need to address to take your business sales to the next level.