The Surprisingly Smart and Easy Use for Social Media That Many Businesses Forget

Posted by: Matt Thompson Thursday, June 12, 2014
social media

More and more savvy business owners are finding ways to engage with their clients on social media. They send out tweets, photos, and specials. They answer client questions and use their social media presence to draw people to their online outlets. But there is one kind of social media update that many businesses forget: reaching out to customers when something goes wrong.

It's All About Reaching People Quickly

Twitter and Facebook have the advantage of allowing you to quickly inform many people about issues or problems. You don't need to worry about whether someone opens up your email or not, since your message shows up right in their social media feed.

If you experience an outage, a shipping delay, or another problem that will affect large numbers of clients, posting a message online is one way to keep them abreast of any issues.

Common Fears – And Why They Shouldn't Hold You Back

Hey, we understand: you may not want to share negative news online because you worry it will make your business look bad. But customers are far more likely to be happy if they are informed about a problem than if they stumble across it themselves.

Think, for instance, of frustration you've experienced when you have tried to do a transaction online and you seem to get caught in a loop or your entries do not seem to be working. Or a time that you've called a customer service line only to be put on hold for 20 minutes or more. Wouldn't it have been better to know what is going on than to wonder and waste time trying to solve the issue on your end?

Your customers feel the exact same way. A few instances where a social media message can allay customer fears and frustrations:

  • Times when you are experiencing unexpected high volume on your customer service lines.
  • Power outages and adverse weather that cause you to close a location for a few hours or more.
  • Breaches that have possibly exposed clients' financial or other personal data.
  • Last minute changes to events.

Sometimes things go wrong, and customers understand that. But by making the issue known as quickly as possible, you allow customers to cope with the situation and, when necessary, make other arrangements.

Believe it or not, by being upfront and honest, you’ll create more loyalty among your customers.

Develop a Social Media Policy

This, of course, does not mean that you should not use discretion and PR savvy when posting. Have a policy in place in advance so that, when you do have to take to social media with bad news, the situation does not wind up becoming a social media nightmare. A few key points to include in your policy:

  • Don't just hand social media to the most junior person in the marketing department. These profiles are part of the public face of your business. It takes skill and tact to handle these interactions, particularly when there is an issue to resolve.
  • Explain the issue as simply as possible and let customers know when you hope it will be resolved. Knowing what to expect makes clients feel more at ease.
  • Ask customers to share your status. This can help you get word out more quickly and keep more customers informed.
  • Abstain from humor. It can feel like a self-deprecating mea culpa might present you in a better light, but there are no strong indicators of tone online. A message that comes off flippant might upset already frustrated customers.
  • Have someone monitoring social media accounts after the announcement is made and until the issue is resolved. This way, customer concerns are addressed in the open. People can look at your online pages and get answers based on questions that others have already asked.
  • Never post an angry or defensive response to a customer complaint. It can feel satisfying, in the moment, to fire back when you receive vitriolic messages. However, this can spiral out of control and look bad for your brand. Keep responses helpful, when possible, and neutral at worst.
  • Add an update when the issue is resolved. Include clear contact information that clients can use if they are still having problems.

No business ever has 100% smooth sailing. Lag time, downtime, and other issues are to be expected. But when you use your social media presence to communicate and keep your customers in the loop, you can come out on top, no matter what life throws at you.