There is a quite a bit of chatter about how companies should engage with online consumers within the social media space – including suggested service etiquette, rules of engagement, and how to simply listen effectively.
Social media has enabled a new channel for customer feedback. It’s more than just a one-way feedback opportunity, but rather the start of a two-way dialogue where the change process can be witnessed and the outcome quickly implemented. As a customer, how do we maximize this channel and these new dialogues to foster a valuable outcome?
Well, we could moan and vent about our frustrations via Twitter, Facebook or even Yelp, but does that offer workable substance. How is that productive? I mentioned in an old post that just because you have the means to tweet or voice your opinion online (and have a potential product/service grievance), doesn’t mean you should do so carelessly or without some thought to your desired resolution.
Samantha Ogborn wrote a great post, Social Media Karma: Why Your Voice Reigns that offers insight into how you (as a consumer) can effectively leverage and increase the value of your social media voice.
Collective responsibility: As Matt Cheuvront comments, constructive criticism is powerful. If we’re going to take the time to offer feedback, then we need to do so in a way that’s thoughtful and offers value. That’s the beauty of constructive criticism – it encourages us to offer suggestions in a manner that’s direct, constructive, and not accusatory. Rather than solely criticizing, it outline solutions and offers opportunities for improvement.
Note that while a tantrum might get attention, it doesn’t necessarily result in a positive outcome – no one really wins. Sometimes we need to take a deep breathe and think about the outcome we’d prefer. What do we want or need, why were we upset, and how could the party on the other end make it better? Better yet, how could the party on the other end make it better for everyone – not just for you?
My advice to companies: Continue to listen, but also do so with a curious and keen mind. Don’t assume that everything we, as customers, say is of value. We appreciate that you are starting to open yourself up to the good, the bad, and the ugly, but sometimes a rant is just a rant. Maybe there isn’t always something subliminally valuable within that tweet, post, or comment – anger and venting can’t always be translated or harnessed (even when it’s justified).
Earlier this week I complained about Apple‘s unveiling of the new iPhone 4. Honestly, I was just complaining, really for the sake of complaining. As an Apple consumer, I have accepted that updates and shiner, new versions are par for the course with just about all Apple products. I’m sure my rant was picked up by someone at Apple, but my guess is that Apple will more likely act on actual constructive feedback from someone else, v. my quick fire love/hate of Apple remark.
We keep encourage companies to listen. Now let’s give them something worth listening to.