How should companies respond to stories in social media?
By Dr Tom van Laer
Companies are used to arguing their case. If you send in a complaint, you get an explanation in return. But if there is one thing complaining consumers do not want to hear, it is a dry list of facts. People who vent their emotions on the Internet want those emotions to be accepted. They want emotional relief. It works best to allow for that emotion. Therefore, companies should always begin with an apology and creatively tell the story from their perspective. For an excuse in itself indicates you show emotion; that you allow the other person’s emotion. Whether a company is at fault or not, you can always apologise for what the customer is going through. It works better when this story is told by someone from the shop floor, instead of the company’s spokesperson. People find a response from a spokesperson cheap. Moreover, a spokesperson is trained to present statements and arguments, whereas a frontline employee – the real service employee – is just an everyday man/woman who is in direct contact with the customers. If you let that employee present his story from his perspective, he will put a human face on the story. In fact, social media are about people sharing stories.
08 December 2012