10 Jun My personal guarantee: No one has EVER complained about your company using social media
THE GOOD NEWS: Since the beginning of social media, no one has ever COMPLAINED about your company using social media. I can guarantee it.
THE BAD NEWS: I can also guarantee that there have been a wide variety of negative comments.
The difference between a ‘complaint’ and a ‘negative comment’ may seem subtle, but as an experienced marketer working in a regulated industry, it’s an important difference. A ‘negative comment’ is only a complaint when it given directly to your company or directly to your industry’s regulatory organization. Until then? It’s a PREVENTABLE complaint.
Businesses are understandably interested in what consumers say about them. Customer comments are valuable market information. Word of mouth advertising remains one of the most powerful forces in sales and marketing. Negative comments that are ignored can haunt a company for years.
Consider the insurance industry. A decade ago — well before social media was available as a channel for public sentiment — negative comments about a few individual companies tainted the reputation of the entire industry.
In A complaint is a gift: recovering customer loyalty when things go wrong, authors Janelle Barlow and Claus Moller noted how views of the insurance industry were at an all time low in the 90’s. Why? Because insurance companies didn’t handle claims well in the wake of natural disasters (earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, and fires) that occurred at the time. As a result, the authors said that people believed in record numbers that insurance companies overcharged auto owners, home owners and businesses. Not because it was true — but because the quality of service was poor.
“The more dissatisfied customers become, the more likely they are to use word of mouth to express their displeasure. But if companies make it easy for customers to complain and handle these complaints, dissatisfaction rates decrease, negative word of mouth lessens and positive word of mouth may be generated,” the authors said. “Customers simply want to tell someone about their problem.”
Customers want to be heard. This is why social media is an ESSENTIAL listening environment. Addressing negative comments early — when they first appear on a microblog — can prevent negative blog posts, regulatory complaints and bad customer service.
A few sentances of frustration expressed on a company’s Facebook wall or in a customer’s Twitter stream is an opportunity for companies to listen and respond.
The Sound of Dissatisfied Customers
Every complaint is a gift. This one is from the gifted. Finnish artists Tellervo Kalleinen and Oliver Kochta-Kalleinen collected the pet peeves and angst-ridden pleas of people in Helsinki and then composed this choral work around the list of complaints.