Turn Rants Into Raves

You’d better pay attention to what’s being said about you online, because the conversation is happening whether or not you decide to show up. Sound familiar? Its the golden rule of social media. It’s a sound bite you’ll hear it from speaker after speaker at any social media event you go to, and it’s true.

Do you really have to pay attention though? Should you respond to every gripe or complaint a customer has? I don’t think so. Isn’t that the same thing as buying a kid candy every time they start screaming in the checkout line? Don’t you run the risk of conditioning your customers into crybabies? To a certain degree, I think this is the case.

Not all organizations have this luxury though. As we’ve seen in the success stories of Dell and Comcast, you can score a lot of brownie points with consumers when you listen and engage online – particularly when you own and resolve problems for customers. If you’re an organization like BP on the other hand, you really can’t ignore what’s being said about you online. Your problem won’t just go away.

If you’re a small business, you’ll most likely have some complainers online. They’ll post a bad review on Yelp!, trash you on Twitter, or fillet you on Facebook. It’s more likely somebody will share negative feedback than positive – it’s the whole emotional side of things. In these smaller cases, there’s a good chance if you ignore a rogue complaint here or there, the person will go away. But you’d be missing a huge opportunity if you ignored them. Anytime somebody complains, you have an opportunity to turn their rants into raves. Here’s an illustrative example:

My refrigerator died the other day. I called Sears to come fix it. They told me they could come look at it in a week. A week seemed like a long time to me. I got mad and tweeted about it. Rather than ignore me, Sears @replied and asked for my info. They jumped on the opportunity to make things right – and agreed publicly that a week was too long to wait. The rep that took care of me was personal, very likable and somebody that seems to really love her job. A repairman came out the next day, and a week later, my refrigerator is working great.

Sears could have ignored my rant. It would have gotten lost in a sea of tweets. Do any of my followers really care whether or not I have cold milk? Probably not. Like all the smart brands online that understand the potential of social media to strengthen customer relationships, Sears turned my rant into a rave. They took care of me. This is what brands are supposed to do for their customers – the lifeblood of their business. So far, I’ve shared this story on panel discussions and in this blog post. Just by listening and taking care of a reasonable customer request, Sears has increased customer loyalty by one person. Imagine the impact that could have across the 100s of customers they must talk to each week.

The next time somebody is complaining or saying something negative about you or the brands you represent, as yourself, how can I turn this rant into a rave?

About Jeremy Porter 214 Articles
Jeremy Porter has been passionate about the intersection of public relations and journalism since studying both Public Relations and Journalism at Utica College of Syracuse University in the late 90s. Porter launched Journalistics in 2009 to share his ideas and insights around both professions and how trends and developments in modern day marketing, communications, and technology impact those working in these fields. Porter also values the traditions and history of both professions and regularly shares his perspective in these areas - and related topics geared toward the next generation of journalism and public relations professionals.

7 Comments

  1. That is such an awesome story!! I loved seeing that it isn’t just the small and mid size businesses actually using social media on such a personal level. Most of the time I feel like big companies just spit out links to their sales or bots do the pre-programmed tweeting. I haven’t had any ranting yet over at Financially Digital and I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing 🙂 I wish Comcast was a listening a little better when I was having trouble though that’s for sure..

  2. On the flip side I got upset with Papa Johns recently (see post here http://mindblogging.typepad.com/whataconcept/2010/04/are-you-ready-for-social-media-papa-johns-isnt.html)

    For the most part they ignored my rant. I have not ordered from them since, but instead turned to try Dominos new pizza (which initially I was not interested in). I would not say Dominos is great as far as taste but I have started watching how they are responding to their customers online and have great respect for their level of customer service. So on pizza night Dominos is near the top of the list of choices whereas Papa Johns is not on my list at all.

  3. That’s a great thing that social media can do, and it’s nice to see that even small companies have started doing it. You’re right, gaining a loyal customer is really, really important. If only offline customer services were this helpful. On the other hand, what will happen if everybody started doing it? Who gets to be served first? The one with the bigger number of followers? Now, we’re excited about solving rants on Twitter because it’s still new, we feel like someone is actually listening to us, but I’m wondering what would happen if everybody will turn Twitter when they have a problem.

  4. It is so great hearing that big companies are actually listening to consumers. I work in kid’s retail and customer complaints can compound and lead to disastrous results. One person complains and with twitter is not just complaining to a neighbor but as many people she have following her. On the flip side if a complaint is turned into a complement that complement is also told to her followers. In my opinion, the followers are more apt to remember the action that a company took to turn a complaint to a complement than the original complaint. I fully agree that businesses should not ignore complaints.

  5. I would not say Dominos is great as far as taste but I have started watching how they are responding to their customers online and have great respect for their level of customer service.

  6. On the other hand, what will happen if everybody started doing it? Who gets to be served first? The one with the bigger number of followers? Now, we’re excited about solving rants on Twitter because it’s still new, we feel like someone is actually listening to us, but I’m wondering what would happen if everybody will turn Twitter when they have a problem.

  7. I loved seeing that it isn’t just the small and mid size businesses actually using social media on such a personal level. Most of the time I feel like big companies just spit out links to their sales or bots do the pre-programmed tweeting.

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  1. Paying attention to the haters | Wheel on the Web
  2. How Not to be Annoying on Twitter and Facebook

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