I was driving on the I-85 highway in Charlotte, NC when I noticed my car began to slow down. With speeds that are typically above average, I-85 is the worst place for this to happen. Car after car zoomed pass me. In the meantime, my car continued to slow, 60, 50, 40 … I quickly realized that I was in trouble and needed to pull over. At the next available exit I did and the car suddenly shut down in the middle of the right turning lane
Petrified, I immediately called my insurance company who promptly sent a tow truck. What followed was perhaps one of the worst customer service experiences I will ever have.
The tow truck took my car to the nearest Suzuki dealership (my car is a 2009 Suzuki). Upon calling them the next day, I was told that the car would be ready in a week. Well, it wasn’t a week. For a full month I attempted to get my car back, with no luck, calling day after day and receiving an excuse each time. They refused to pay for a rental, initially told me I would not be charged any additional money but soon retracted their statement and told me that I had to pay $800 on top of the warranty, which covered $5000. To top it all off I received my car back dirtier than when I had given it to them. I would grade the overall experience a 0 out of 10.
This experience made me think of the real cost of bad service in the age of social media. Once upon a time before social media, incidents of bad service could remain isolated and away from public attention. It would require one person telling another, and that was restricted by geography. Nowadays with Twitter, Facebook, Yelp, and numerous other social media outlets, it is nearly impossible to keep customers’ bad service experiences quiet.
Your business is only one tweet away from customers all over the world having a bad perception of you. Without a doubt, social media has empowered consumers to hold businesses accountable for the service that they provide. In short, in the age of social media, you cannot hide bad service
This is why it is crucial that your business not only focuses on providing excellent customer service but also on monitoring and improving the perception of your business in social media. Just because you cannot delete a comment made about you on Yelp does not mean that you cannot manage perception and improve your relationships with customers. Having a silent voice amidst customer complaints is the quickest way to render bad reviews true. People will read these comments and assume that they are true because you made no response. Being an active part of the conversation is crucial to controlling your brand image.
Many companies intelligently give free gifts or re-trials to customers who experience a bad service in exchange for a better review. This, in turn, shows a company that is concerned for its customers’ feelings and opinions as well as its own public image.
How in control of your social media image are you? Ask yourself the following questions
- How often do you reply to people’s comments on social media?
- Have you ever reached out to people who had negative reviews about your business?
- Of the comments that you find about your business online, how many are positive and how many are negative?
- If you were a stranger reading comments online about you, would the comments make you want to visit your own business?
Ask yourself these simple questions, and begin taking control of your social media presence and brand image.