Social media has permeated every aspect of modern life and plays a huge role in how businesses manage their customer service efforts. Businesses use Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and other platforms to showcase their products and services, while customers visit these sites to interact and communicate with their favorite brands. While customers are able to voice their praise and grievances using these tools, businesses ought to be wary about managing this input. It might be tempting for a business to delete unfavorable comments or highlight positive ones. It may seem wise for some to control who interacts with the site and when. However, this kind of social media management has oftentimes back fired and created bigger problems for businesses than it was ever worth.
Managing your business’ customer service efforts over social media can give your company a reputation for being inauthentic. The social media sphere is inherently social, meaning it is a place for people to voice their opinions and interact with one other. By cutting customers out of that sphere or by controlling who comes in or out of it, you give your business an exclusivity that is contrary to the spirit of social media. Customers don’t want to support a brand that doesn’t include them or address the popular demand. They want to trust your company as a place where their voices are heard.
Another problem with dabbling in your customers’ business on social media sites is that it can go horribly wrong. The past few years have seen a few companies intentionally or accidently make grave mistakes when ‘serving’ their customers online and their reputations have suffered. One example comes from Yelp. The user populated service industry review site offers a place for customers to describe their experiences at restaurants, spas, and other businesses in nearly every city in America. Businesses get ratings and reviews get comments, building a community of customers who speak the truth about their meals or appointments and who aim at keeping the service sector accountable. Yelp has struggled over the years to keep businesses with negative reviews happy with their own site to the point where these business customers have threatened to sue Yelp for what they claim are false accusations by ill-meaning consumers. Yelp instituted its own review filter that then managed these comments, artificially pushing businesses up or down in the ratings system. As you can imagine, this wasn’t the most consistent scheme and it had many businesses and consumers confused. Many businesses have taken matters into their own hands by purchasing fake reviews by anonymous writers. Unfortunately, this exploitation has put Yelp under fire when not butting in and managing the review system on their site may have avoided this.
It is important that businesses participate in the social and marketing outlets that reach their target markets the most effectively. However, managing customer service efforts through social media platforms is a tricky undertaking that may not provide the kind of attention or attract the kind of publicity your company needs. Yet while managing social media may be an overwhelming task to undertake, but offering other modes for consumers to complain or ask questions, such as by providing around the clock call center services, you can reduce or eliminate the need for social media.