The first thing to embrace on entering the online space is the notion of conversation versus monologue. As much as a brand will choose to be on a given platform to advertise its goods and services, the big difference with traditional advertising spaces is that the user WILL interact with you directly, and with much greater speed and honesty.
With a voice – and reach – like never before, the question is no longer if users are talking about your brand, it’s whether or not you choose to engage and have a hand in directing some of the conversations some of the time.
What Am I Doing Here?
Your aim in this environment where there are blogs, review sites, social networking and other sites where users can say anything about you and share it with potentially thousands of people within hours – is three-fold:
1. To be constantly aware of what is being said about your brand so that
2. You can toot your own horn when the comments and reviews are good (users trust peer reviews much more than traditional advertising) and also
3. Deal with negative comments in a prompt, professional and proficient manner should they come up (which they will!).
After the mere act of being available for consumers to interact and perform transactions with you in the digital space, dealing with negative feedback is perhaps most important because once online, nothing is ever lost or completely ‘deleted’ and it could come across suspicious if users post negative comments which you’re quick to delete so,
The 2 Rs of the customer service in the online space apply here:
Responding is key because it leaves a trail that shows not only your unhappy client, but thousands of online passers-by, that you want to interact with your users whether their comments are positive or negative. And that will give you an untold number of brownie points – not to mention possible new clients – because they’ll know you won’t try to sweep anything under the carpet.
Rectifying – which will always be case- and product-specific – shows that you’re in this for the long haul – for a relationship, and not just a hit-and-run. That too will earn you kudos and build trust.
Simply put, make your users feel heard – it’s a basic human need. Users are people, never forget that.
By Nqo MaKhumalo
Social Media/Content Management at a leading South African publisher
Twitter – @Afrodaze