Your brand’s reputation is everything. Whether you are selling products directly to consumers, or services to other businesses, reputation is key. Customers won’t do business with your brand if it has a bad reputation. But can you really manage your brand’s reputation in an era of constant scrutinizing and criticism?
The answer, surprisingly, is yes. And increasing so, thanks to social media. Understand that social media is a two-way communication vehicle. It is unprecedented as communication medium that gives business owners the opportunity to review all customer feedback – and complaints – on a broad scale, and allows you to respond to criticism or brand scrutiny on an individual, per-customer basis. For this reason, among many others, social media is an extremely positive development for business owners of any-sized business.
Here are a few tips to consider when implementing your company’s social media strategy – and dealing with customer criticism. Remember that social media platforms are a VERY powerful public relations tool (for the better) when used correctly.
Treat social media as a two-way communication tool, from day one
Don’t wait for a public relations nightmare to unfold – treat your social media channels as a giant, real-time survey designed to measure customer satisfaction, from the day you launch your social media strategy. Respond to customer concerns, worries, or complaints immediately. Don’t wait for a crisis to develop. Establish ongoing communications with customers, and resolve the situation in the best way you can.
Do this in public – on your Facebook wall, Twitter feed, etc. – and other customers will take note. Soon, customer sentiment – and your brand’s reputation – will be something like this: “WOW, these guys know what they’re doing! I always get a timely and effective response.”
Encourage customer feedback via social media
Ask for your customers’ feedback, questions, and comments through various status updates on your social media channels. Some ideas: what do they think of your latest product? Do they like recent changes to your software? How was your quarterly event last month?
Engaging your customers – and asking for criticism – is often the only way to truly know how customers feel about your brand. Sure, you’re going to hear some things that you may disagree with. But, for the sake of your brand’s reputation, learn to embrace all forms of criticism.
Show consistency – be active on social media channels
No one bothers to look at a company’s social media channels if they haven’t been updated in weeks, or worse, months. Remain active and try to post on your brand’s social media channels at least 3 times per week. With social media, more is better.
Customers like to hear from you. They like to know you’re looking out for them – and your industry. Believe it or not, many customers also like reading news about your industry. Being active also means requesting customer feedback regularly. Never miss an opportunity to learn more about your customers and what they love – and hate.
Respond to criticism in real-time
When an issue arises, fix it. Don’t wait and stumble for a response. On the social web, the customer is always right – more than ever. Listen to complaints and correct them. Make the customer happy with a timely response. They will embrace your customer service and come back for more.