According to a study conducted by the Society of New Communications Research, “59 percent of respondents say they regularly use social media to "vent" about their own customer care frustrations.”
Social media has changed the way organizations (public and private) interact with citizens. Organizations can have people fill out surveys in under a minute, share content quickly and under 140 characters, and engage with citizens in a two-way dialogue. And this is all from the comfort of one's home. With social media, citizens are empowered to engage with organizations and specifically, government, because it requires significantly less effort than it used to. Voicing your concerns doesn't require attending a town hall meeting or writing a letter to your Congressmen, you can simply tweet at them or post something on Facebook. In terms of customer service, this means organizations feel increased pressure to provide excellent customer service because if you don't, you will quickly hear about it. According to a study conducted by the Society of New Communications Research, “59 percent of respondents say they regularly use social media to "vent" about their own customer care frustrations.” This means one negative interaction with one person can influence hundreds of people and outshine all of the positive interactions.
While the word "vent" doesn't seem like a good thing, it can be and there are ways to turn negative experiences around. In a recent article, James Getz shares three ways to create a positive customer vent:
- Provide Ubiquitous Customer Service- As the preference for online communication increases (especially in the younger generations), it has become imperative for organizations to provide customer services through multiple outlets such as email, online chat, and self-service. This enables customers to easily share their opinions, bad experiences, and opinions on sites which can be damaging to your image. However, if companies can provide a uniformed approach to customer service, they can create a strong customer base and turn negative and frustrating customer experiences into positive ones. The important this is to empower people to share good information, not just the bad.
- Monitoring Social Media Activities- In order to judge citizen sentiments and what they are actually saying, organizations should leverage some of the latest tools and software that shows what their customers are talking about. This crucial insight within customer behavior patterns can assist organizations in formulating strategic responses that may bolster customer engagement and quickly solve their problems. If organizations simply put content out there, without listening to the feedback, they are missing a huge opportunity to improve services and understand what their citizens actually want and need. Once you identify a problem area, it is important to respond quickly. Ignoring the issue won't make it go away, especially on social media channels.
- Provide Hosted Social Network Platform- Organizations who believe in providing quality customer service can go that extra mile and host their own independent Web 2.0 community for greater online visibility. If done right, it can potentially provide higher customer interactions and can assist with receiving direct feedback from customers. Such interactive platforms enable customers to comment on initiatives, give ratings, and share perspectives directly with the organization.
Venting or sharing negative experiences is human nature. While social media can exacerbate a bad experience, it also allows you to understand the issue. Social media provides greater insight into what citizens want, think about your agency, and need from you. Although we might not always like the feedback, it is imperative that we listen so we can improve and deliver better services. Moreover, if done right, it can turn a former "venter" into an agency superfan.
What do you think? What are other ways you can turn negative experiences into positive ones using social media?
Want more information? Be sure to check out our new report: Integrating Multichannel Communication in Gov't Customer Service.
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