Before the Internet, when a customer had a complaint about a business, they visited a customer service desk or made a call to a corporate office. In the early days of the Internet, those calls migrated to angry emails or submitted forms on a company’s website. But social media has changed the complaint experience in ways that are potentially dangerous for brands. Instead of complaining directly to a business, customers can now post their complaints for thousands of followers to read and possibly even share.
For businesses, this means keeping up with social media activity is yet another of the many tasks you’ll be expected to take care of on a daily basis. You already have a system for tracking and resolving complaints that come by phone and email. Adding social media to your inbox is easy. But what about mentions of your competitors? Here are a few ways monitoring complaints on competitors through social media can help your brand.
Competition Heats Up
It may sound juvenile, but one of the biggest reasons to provide social media customer service is that everyone else is doing it. More businesses than ever are monitoring mentions on social media, which means customers are beginning to expect it. Even worse, some businesses are now monitoring mentions of their competitors, then responding with an invitation to try out their service instead. If you don’t remain proactive, one of your competitors may snatch your customers away when you aren’t looking.
Keep Your Accounts Active
Any business can suffer an unexpected public relations crisis, whether it’s because of a data breach, actions of one of its leaders, or some other piece of bad news. When that happens to one of your competitors, you have a prime opportunity to demonstrate how great your own brand is. The first step toward that is to create a social media strategy that includes monitoring social media mentions for multiple terms related to your competitors. This will allow you to be the first to know when negative information is being disseminated about someone in your industry.
Avoid Missed Opportunities
A customer complaint isn’t always the end of a business’s relationship with a consumer. Experts advise businesses to turn those complaints into an opportunity. Since many customers walk away rather than complain, those that complain on social media often want the company to make things right. When you notice one of your competitors isn’t responding, it gives you the chance to swoop in and win that customer away by offering a free trial or a discount on your products. This may seem aggressive to your competitors, however, so be prepared for them to counterattack at some point when one of your customers complains.
In some cases, you’ll never win an unhappy customer away from a competitor. Even when you don’t, you still have a chance to win new business through the experience. When a customer posts negatively about a brand and you respond gracefully and professionally, that customer’s followers are witnesses to the transaction, especially if it takes place on a site like Facebook, where replies are readily visible to everyone reading a post. You may not win the unhappy customer but if you get the attention of one or two of that customer’s followers, it’s well worth the extra work.
If you provide customer service for your business, it’s important to monitor social media as part of your efforts. An increasing number of customers are posting their dissatisfaction there and when they do, a timely response is essential. When a business monitors its competitors’ social media activity, those businesses gain an advantage that could make a big difference in their sales.