As we welcome 2012, we should also be wary in what we decide against welcoming during this New Year. As people pack into gyms after work this evening, hold doors, and express gratitude in ways unimaginable on a quest to fulfill yearly resolutions, I will identify a few ways we can improve as professionals for the New Year throughout the week.
It is of no surprise that the words Social Media would be present in this post. It also comes without surprise that one of the most profound issues with a company’s social media presence stems from how we go about responding to complaints.
Complaints are inevitable – no public relations firm is immune to the public’s voice of dissatisfaction every now and then. However, the manner by which PR professionals (or any professional) handle complaints, especially those delivered via social media, can make or break a company’s reputation and future.
Poor Example 1: Asking your customer to remove negative comments (Cursing at them as well)
In Dominique Ellis’ December 27, 2011 post on Social Media Today, she described a scenario where a pair of customers were disappointed a restaurant they wanted to dine at was closed by 10 p.m. To express their sadness, they tweeted the restaurant their sentiments. This situation happens all the time, however, things became a little unordinary when the conversation expanded to a series of tweets between the social media person from the restaurant and the upset customer and ended in the person tweeting on the restaurant’s behalf cussing at the customer and demanding they remove a negative comment they posted to Yelp.com. Throughout the article Ellis describes the back-and-forth dialogue and sums up how to communicate with disappointed customers without seeming petty or rude.
Poor Example 2: Becoming a Twitter Sensation – only for all the wrong reasons.
Though direct emails may seem personal, no one should ever trust that email content will stay “private” – no matter how simple or meaningless a message may seem. Ocean Marketing’s Paul Christoforo is probably familiar with this. The string of emails between Christoforo, and a customer inquiring about the order status of an Avenger PlayStation3 game controller, reveal how one should never neglect the power (and rapid spread of information) of the consumer + the internet. After a series of emails riddled with insults between the customer and himself without a clear answer as to the customer’s original question, Christoforo lost support of company’s he once worked with as well as potential customers because information concerning his dealings with one customer began to circulate on Twitter.
The Lesson: As we do in other areas of our lives, we learn from the criticism we receive from others. Though no one likes to hear or read negative feedback, this feedback can be essential in avoiding stagnation and may be fuel for greater improvements. If you are working in any way that your work may appear in a public forum or be seen, shared, or read by others you are assuming the responsibility of keeping your cool about the fact that everyone will never love everything that you create. Use feedback to improve. Do not lay blame upon the customers or insult customers, especially if you are talking down to them about something completely unrelated to the original problem.
Additionally, if you are hiring an intern or assistant to interact on social media sites on your behalf, make sure they are representing you in a positive light. Though interns will often work without monetary compensation, this does not mean they are always in support of the company’s well-being. Any less-than-positive feedback concerning company actions is not a reflection of one’s personal worth; rather, negative feedback often reflects an area that needs a little extra attention within the company.