Tuesday, September 6, 2011
Go Ahead, Create A Monster
Recently, I spent some time observing the child of one of my cousins. This kid (who'll we'll call Johnny for the purposes of protecting the identity of the not so innocent) learned as an infant that a well timed scream or fit would immediately garner his doting parents' attention and get him what he wanted. Not surprisingly, now that he's a toddler Johnny is, shall we say, having a hard time learning that whole discipline thing. Hence, thanks to the lifetime of appeasement, catering, and spoiling he's enjoyed, I got to witness a fair amount of direct disobedience, screaming, and tantrums. Needless to say, on our way home, I looked at the missus and said, "That kid is a monster!" (Please note that I'm inherently qualified to pass judgement on other people's parenting, as the missus and I have been the perfect parents and our child is as close to an angel as you will find!)
If you're running a business that emphasizes customer service, however, your goal should be to create a monster! That means responding immediately to every scream or squeak from your customers as fast as you can. But remember, in the digital age, the definition of "speedy" has changed significantly.
You may have a telephone and a "Contact Us" link on your website but, for many people, Twitter and Facebook have become the fastest means of communicating with a business. However, if you don't monitor those venues, and respond promptly, your customers can be just as quick to post their dissatisfaction on the web for all to see!
Want to see how fast a complaint can travel when things go wrong? Just look here (read from the bottom up and note that all these messages were posted within 15 minutes of each other):
While the complaint was one thing, that the restaurant in question never reached out the original poster (whose contact info was readily available) or offered a public or private explanation or apology earns them a major failing grade!
On the other hand, for an example of how it can be done right, check out this article from Oklahoma City journalist Dave Rhea. While Dave spells out his good experience, you'll also note the vendor he commends took the time to monitor his company's presence on the web and to post his own thank you in the comments.
Fortunately, creating your own monitoring monster to quickly react to every squeak from your customers is easy. Just take the time to monitor yourself and your business on the web (or pay a minimal amount to have a service do it) and respond quickly if trouble pops up. It can be in the form of a Facebook message, direct message, response tweet, email, or even a phone call. The key, like those overindulgent parents, is to jump when your customers reach out to you with a problem or go public with their dissatisfaction. And if you're saying "I don't have the time," then remember that, like in the example above, one negative Facebook post or dissatisfied Tweet can go viral on the web in the time it takes you to put down the phone.
Anybody can create a social media monster that garners plenty of likes and retweets, but feeding that monster when it gets hungry takes a little more time and effort. Instantly appeasing your infant child to keep him happy may help him grow into a bratty, screaming monster but, to keep your customers happy, you need to be ready to jump the instant they reach out. So go ahead and create a social media monster. Just remember, if you want it to grow your marketing, you still have to feed it...