When I looked at Facebook last night, one of my friends was ranting about how she had ‘stuck it’ to Ryan Air by wearing her suitcase onboard.
This equated to: one pair of leggings, one pair of skinny jeans, one pair of boot cut jeans, three bras, two vest tops, three long sleeve tops, one T-shirt, one shirt, one dress, one waistcoat, one cardigan and a jacket, plus a fold-up shopper bag. Once in the air, she changed in the toilets and put the clothes into the bag. She gleefully shared her success with her 162 Facebook friends, 10 of whom ‘liked’ her status and another thirteen who commented directly. She also shared with the group that she wasn’t the only person on board doing this.
As a marketer, for me, the scary part of this tale is how many of her 162 friends will now relate this story to their friends, via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, email, or blog posts like this one?
Social media – friend or foe?
And how many of the other people who also wore their suitcase on board also shared this story online?
Finally, and this thought is even more sobering, this story will now be cached and stored by the Google bots – forever immortalised online and ready to be presented in future online search results about your company.
So my question to you is, could your business be damaged irreparably by an online rant?
Before the internet, people might complain to colleagues, family or a small circle of friends. We’ve all heard the figures about one unhappy customer who will tell 10 people about their bad experience. In turn, those 10 people will tell another 10 people, resulting in 100 people who now know about the initial bad experience.
But that was before the internet became a fixture in our daily lives. Now, we have so many offline and online outlets to use to vent our disappointment and anger – we are spoilt for choice and audience.
A recent phenomenon of social media has resulted in customers now being more like to rant about you and your service levels online than anywhere else. Customers can hide behind the anonymity of the web and this allows them to behave differently than they would do face-to-face. Research* by Euro RSCG Worldwide, conducted in 2009, found that people were more likely to ‘lash out’ on the web when they had something to say about a company or brand. Indeed, one-fifth of internet users, including almost a quarter of men, had already done so.
So, when customers complain online about you, your company or your brand…what do you do? As a marketer I know the internet can be dangerous for brands. Companies no longer have control over consumer-created content. So, now more than ever, it’s important to constantly review your service levels and see if you can improve your customers’ experience. One online rant can irreparably damage the reputation of a local business that has been running successfully for years.
So, it is a foolish business owner who buries their head in the sand when it comes to customer complaints. Just because you haven’t had a complaint for a while, doesn’t mean that your customers aren’t moaning about you online! Perhaps you should consider actively asking your customers to complain to you before they go online?
I think for small businesses, it’s even more important to keep up a conversation with your customers since it’s very likely that the complainant will be moaning online about you to their local friends. No business needs that kind of bad publicity.
Customers complain. It’s a fact of life. And since you can’t please everyone all of the time, you have to try your hardest to please some of them some of the time. But you’re only human and you will fail sometimes. However, by listening to your customers, interacting and engaging with them, you stand a better chance of sorting the complaint out before it goes onto the internet…forever immortalised in cyberspace.
For help with creating a conversational marketing plan with your customers, call me on 07901 823877. Don’t let your customers control your brand online.
* Source: http://www.emarketer.com/Article.aspx?R=1007395
By Liselle Barnsley
Tailored Marketing Solutions