social media optimization conference

Does your company embrace transparency?

ZuberRants contributor, Ted Rubin, recently wrote about a fundamental value that every company should embody in today’s social world: authenticity. Last week, I attended the Social Media Optimization Conference in San Francisco during which a panel discussion touched upon another core value that every company must embrace: transparency.

During “How to Build and Leverage Your Social Graph,” the panel discussed what to do when an unhappy customer is blasting your company through social media on both their personal profiles and your branded profiles. Sally Falkow, President of PRESSfeed, advised to take the issue offline, or at least to email, and out of the public eye where you can quietly resolve the problem. Khris Loux, CEO of Echo, disagreed and said brands should do the exact opposite. Instead, keep the conversation online and in the social media world where people can see how you consistently and gracefully provide effective customer service.

I completely agree with the latter approach. We now live in a transparent world whether your company embraces transparency or not.

Even if you move the conversation behind closed doors, what is stopping that angry customer from quoting your email response and tweeting it or posting it on their blog for the rest of the world to see, comment, and fuel the fire?

And, let’s face it. No brand is perfect. There will always be disgruntled customers. But companies who demonstrate their swiftness in social media monitoring and can follow up with a solution to their customers’ problem, are capable of turning detractors into Advocates. In fact, a recent survey from The Strauss Group found that 95% of dissatisfied customers would do business again with a company if their problems were solved quickly and satisfactorily. Wouldn’t you like to show that to your entire community?

A few months ago I was one of these angry customers that turned to social media to vent my frustration with AT&T. Irritated and impatient from being put on hold for over 15 minutes, I tweeted (and excuse my French), “AT&T is on my shit list.” An AT&T representative immediately replied to me, asked that I send him my number via Direct Message, and then resolved my issue over the phone. (In this case, it made sense to take the issue offline due to efficiency.)

As an avid social media user, I was extremely impressed with their prompt response and appreciated that they solved my problem in a five minute phone call. They were able to turn me, as a detractor, into an Advocate. I even posted a follow up tweet, “Wow, @ATT is on top of their social media game. Thanks for your help!”

Keep the conversation on Twitter or your Facebook page so you can show both happy and unhappy customers that you are listening and value their opinion and satisfaction with your brand. Plus, your customer service experience will probably will make its way back to the social web anyway. Transparency is an inherent component of social media which simply cannot be ignored.

-Cara Fuggetta, Marketing Manager, Zuberance