If this sounds familiar, it’s probably because you’re confusing it with CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility). However, the subjects might not be that far apart after all. Businesses that get on board the social media bus must understand the level of responsibility that comes with it.
In what seems to be an ancient post now, entitled Social Media Frenzy, I gave a gentle warning to businesses: if you’re not ready for the commitment don’t ride the wave just yet – it’s better to be dubbed as not In (~ the zone) than be dubbed as Out (~ of business). Is that statement too subtle, or do I make it very clear that social media mismanagement can lead you to lose business?
So your business decided to join the racks of many and get onto social media – well it’s free, so it’s not really costing you anything, or is it? Hmmm … how much is a lost customer worth to your business? How much does it cost you to retain a customer? How much does it cost you to get a new customer? Social media mismanagement can do a lot of damage, and that is why it should not be taken lightly.
OK let’s bring this closer to home: Social Media is a communication tool. If you call a certain company up or send them an email, you expect them to reply, and if they don’t, you will probably be upset, and you might relay your dismay to your friends, who will in turn share your negative sentiments vis-à-vis that company based on your experience. Social Media is not different – if you have a Facebook Page, or a Twitter account for your business then you are telling people they can be reached via that medium as well. Failing to do so will result in extremely viral negative feedback. The major difference between traditional forms of communication and Social Media is the speed (with respect to time) in which the message travels and how far it echoes (reach).
In the past, you might have been able to hide behind excuses like: “your email never reached our inbox”, “all our operators were busy (but your call is important to us)” … fortunately for customers, you don’t have that luxury anymore! When I tweet you or write a message on your wall, I have made my complaint public for all to see. At this stage, I’m not the only one expecting a reply from your end; in fact, your fan (followers) base is too! This is what I like to call the unspoken power of customer unity.
The left upper corner of the above figure describes customer feedback pre-Social Media: basic marketing principles taught us that a disgruntled customer is likely to tell 10 other people about their experience, and in turn some of those would relay the message. Graphically this is described in the actual ripple thickness and color, which signifies the intensity of the message. The distance between each ripple represents the time factor involved. In short, intensity of message is negatively correlated with time, and so is the message reach.
The right lower corner of that figure describes the social media effect on customer feedback: The basic marketing principles still apply. Prior to social media, I used to limit my complaining to a close list of 10 or so friends. Now I have two additional contact points that make all the difference – my personal social network and that of the company. Unlike traditional WOM, Social Media’s effect has much greater magnitude and lasts much longer! This is why I represented it with an expanding spiral megaphone rather than an interrupted ripple. The message on social media grows arms and legs and morphs as more people join their voice to yours.
It is not enough that you join in the different social media networks; what counts is the level of engagement with your customers. Your business will be rewarded or punished accordingly. Remember, the power is no longer in your hands! It is your responsibility to make sure your deliver impeccable customer service on all communication portals.
Here’s what you need to reflect on:
- Does my business have a static or active online presence?
- Are my customers satisfied with the services offered via the business’s social networking platforms?
- Am I conducting the necessary social media audits to see what customers are saying outside my network? What about competitors?
Think About It!