Leading consumer research company, Mystery Customer, has warned business not to make knee jerk decisions based upon negative customer feedback received via social media.
According to Mystery Customer sales and marketing Director, Robert Jarmyn, businesses should be using social media as a tool for gauging what customers are saying about their business but should not react to it without first understanding how wide spread the issue really is. Mr Jarmyn says that “due to the immediacy and wide reach of social media many companies react to negative feedback received via social media without first looking to see if the complaints is about an isolated incident or endemic throughout the entire organisation.”
Unlike traditional word of mouth, negative feedback posted in social media can spread like wildfire. This often leads decision makers to blow the original basis of the complaint totally out of proportion.
Mr Jarmyn says that if a complaint posted on facebook or twitter starts to go viral that the first step should be to ensure that the business moves swiftly to pacify the rising swell of discontent by responding to the issue with a promise of investigating the matter. It may well be that the complaint centers around one isolated incident at a specific location that the customer just happened to be visiting but it could also be a problem occurs regularly which has been allowed to fester because it has not been drawn to the attention of management.
Research shows that online feedback is usually either very positive or very negative. Many customers do not usually share their experiences without prompting but will often jump on the band wagon when there is a growing wave of public sentiment to voice their disapproval.
What business managers need to be aware of is that often consumers will jump on the bandwagon of discontent even though they may be more concerned about something completely different from what the original issue post may have been about.
The only way of assessing how customers really feel about your business is to get unbiased feedback as to how well your business is performing. Mr Jarmyn recommends that business regularly monitor social media to get an understanding of what customers are saying about your business and then conduct mystery shopping programs to see whether or not the comments reflect what customers are experiencing throughout your entire business or just isolated pockets.
If it is restricted to just isolated pockets then action can be taken to work with the staff in those locations to improve the way they operate but if the issue affects the whole business then policies need to be developed to address the issue.
Mr Jarmyn say that companies should not just focus on the negative feedback but should also look at the positive feedback. “If customers are making positive comments about particular aspects of the business then steps should be put in place to ensure that these positive elements are incorporated throughout the entire business.”