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Business Tip: Avoid social media service blunders

By By Lindsey Young
March 5, 2013 at 7:02 p.m.
Updated March 4, 2013 at 9:05 p.m.


A dissatisfied customer will tell an average of 10 people about their experience.

About 12 percent will tell up to 20 people.

In time, it is possible that about 100 people could hear about one customer's poor service experience.

It wasn't all too long ago that the preceding was a true statement. Those were the days prior to social media.

Any idea how social media has affected the world of customer service?

Think about how many "friends," "followers" or "subscribers" you have. I have about 400 "friends" on Facebook alone.

In 2.5 seconds, I can let 400 people know about an experience - good, bad or indifferent.

Social media has become a great tool for marketing and spreading the good word with regard to service.

Unhappy customers are swinging a more powerful sword. Not only can they post, tweet or blog about a negative experience, but they can also post it to your business' page for everyone to see. Then what?

Then you, as a business owner, have to respond to the incident, rather publicly.

Times have changed dramatically. Because of that, many businesses have ramped up their customer service programs. It is believed that about 40 percent of companies have improved their programs in fear of a complaint over social media lines.

All companies and employees make mistakes. No one is perfect, but social media can make it worse by magnifying the problem.

Jean Gianfagna is a marketing strategy expert. In her article "An Unhappy Customer Can Really Hurt Your Brand" she provides four suggestions to avoiding service blunders:

1. Train your entire team about company, brand and image means. It's no accident that companies with great brands have great people who consistently deliver excellent service.

Make sure everyone who interacts with your customers understands your brand promise and how to make that promise real for every customer every day.

2. Admit it when you make a mistake. If your company makes a mistake, be up front about it. Don't blame the customer or come up with lame excuses. It never works.

3. Make it right. Show your customer why this error was an aberration by fully resolving the problem. If you do this right, the customer might tell a very positive story about his or her experience with you on social media.

4. Monitor and respond to social media complaints involving your brand. When an unhappy customer posts something negative online about an experience with your company, respond immediately. Be empathetic then attempt to take the conversation offline so you can resolve the complaint.

Have you thought about how social media has impacted your business' customer service? Understand your customers carry a bigger (and louder) megaphone - more so than ever. Customer service is a major driver for business. Remember that it costs significantly less to retain a pleased customer than it does to acquire a new one or win back a dissatisfied one.

UHV Small Business Development Center will be offering two no-cost customer service seminars this month.

Lindsay Young is a Certified Business Advisor II with the UHV Small Business Development Center. Call the center at 361-485-4485 or email at sbdc@uhv.edu.

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