THE PROBLEM: A Customer Got Less Than Your Best... and Is Now Using Social Media to Tell The World.
THE SOLUTION: Use That Same Social Media Channel to Ask for a Second Chance!
Imagine this scenario: one of your customers has launched a complaint against your company. It is directed not only at you, but also at the universe of customers who buy from you, and... prospective customers who may buy from you in the future! What is your response?
Use the complaint as an opportunity to establish a person-to-person, Voice of Customer, (VOC) dialogue. That dialogue must unfold in public, using the social media channel of the complaining customer's choice... and it must use careful LISTENING to show why your organization deserves a second chance.
If you follow the etiquette of the social media channel your customer has chosen, the odds are good that you will not only receive a second chance, but also earn the right to convert that complaining customer into an evangelist for your organization.
Here are just two examples of dialogues that transformed complainers into evangelists, each of which unfolded on Twitter. Twitter has emerged as a preferred channel for voicing service complaints by today's social-media-savvy consumers. This means that Twitter is a channel every VOC-driven organization should now be monitoring closely.
COMCAST: During an unsatisfactory phone exchange about a refund for an unused premium channel, a Comcast customer used Twitter to send the following message to the world: "I hate Comcast." By the time she hung up with the service rep, she was preparing to launch a wave of complaint messages all over the Internet. Before she could do so, however, she saw a return tweet from one ComcastBill: "What's the issue." The customer explained the situation; using Twitter, ComcastBill actually listened to the customer, paused for a moment, and then announced a $170 credit from Comcast. This from the same dialogue that could easily have sparked a large-scale "I hate Comcast" consumer revolt. The same customer wrote a blog entry praising Comcast's quick response to her Twitter complaint!
Southwest Airlines: A traveler whose baggage had been delayed and left in the rain tweeted an unflattering message about Southwest. The next morning, he saw this tweet: "Sorry to hear about your flight--weather was terrible in the NE. Hope you give us a 2nd chance to prove Southwest=Awesomeness." Surprised at this human-to-human engagement, the passenger wrote a detailed blog praising the personalized service...and informing the world at large that "the flight back was great." You can read the blog here.
If you're not already using Twitter to monitor references to your company... you should start!
When a problem arises, use the channel of the complaining customer's choice (for example, Twitter), to begin a dialogue. Engage (publicly) with the goal of LISTENING well enough to EARN A SECOND CHANCE.
If you made a mistake, take full ownership and apologize.
Ernan Roman is President of the marketing consultancy, Ernan Roman Direct Marketing.
Recognized as the industry pioneer who created three transformational methodologies: Integrated Direct Marketing, Opt-In Marketing, and Voice of Customer Relationship Research.
Clients include Microsoft, NBC Universal, Disney, Hewlett-Packard and IBM.
Ernan was named to "B to B's Who's Who" as one of the "100 most influential people" in Business Marketing by Crain's B to B Magazine.
His latest book on marketing best practices was published in October, 2010, and is titled: Voice of the Customer Marketing: A Proven 5-Step Process to Create Customers Who Care, Spend, and Stay.
Ernan is also the co-author of "Opt-In Marketing: Increase Sales Exponentially with Consensual Marketing" and author of "Integrated Direct Marketing: The Cutting Edge Strategy for Synchronizing Advertising, Direct Mail, Telemarketing and Field Sales."