By Jamey Lo
As I alluded to last week, this week’s blog post should have been a review of my tour of Village Brewery over the weekend. However, as a result of extenuating circumstances, my tour of Village Brewery was cancelled.
To preface the situation, in order to book a private tour at Village, you must have at least 10 people in your party to attend. For all of $15.00 per person, you receive a tour of the facilities, a Village Brewery pint glass, 1 full pint of your choice, and 4 samples of other Village beers. That’s one hell of a deal!
Unfortunately, several members of our party had to cancel on us last-minute for various reasons. In light of this, my friend, who booked the tour, phoned Village Brewery to ask if it would still be okay to proceed with the tour for the 5 of us who were able to attend. The staff at Village Brewery assured us that our situation was perfectly understandable and that the tour would take place as scheduled. However, approximately 10 minutes later, my friend received a phone call from Village informing us that if we still wanted to attend the tour that we would be accountable for paying the entire fee for 10 people, regardless of only have 5 people in attendance.
While I can understand the reasoning behind this, I find it extremely disrespectful to be told one thing, only to have a decision reversed with little to no explanation. Ultimately, we were forced to cancel.
Cue social media rant.
As is the case with any struggle that the Millennial Generation faces, we all turn to social media to voice our displeasure rather than vent to our family and friends. Because, its so much easier to interact with a computer than actual human beings, right? As such, I decided to take to Twitter.
Initially, I figured I would have the best chance of garnering an actual response from Village Brewery through Facebook. However, on a whim and based on how immediate Twitter is, I decided to go with the latter. And guess what? It actually worked!
Within minutes, I received a tweet from Jim, a Marketing Strategist at Village Brewery, asking to send him an email regarding the entire situation. We exchanged a series of emails over the weekend. Eventually, Jim offered me and my group an entirely free tour to be scheduled at my earliest convenience. And that’s how it’s done folks!
The power of social media.
This story highlights just how powerful social media can be. When most professionals talk about business, marketing and its sphere of control including social media, are often an afterthought. However, the reality is, marketing is vital to any business because it connects your company to your customers. It sparks conversation, dialogue, discussion. Aside from actual face-to-face interaction, there’s almost nothing that can connect your company to your customers better than social media.
However, as I alluded to above, social media is a dialogue, meaning it’s a two-way street. Social media is an outlet from your company to the customer and from the customer to the your company. It is an extension of your company’s brand and should be treated as such. It should be carefully crafted; never an afterthought. Customers who engage with your company from behind a screen should never be treated as inferior to customers who don’t. Because hell hath no fury like a disgruntled customer with a Facebook account, Twitter handle, personal blog or Yelp account at their finger tips!
Dissatisfied customers are just as likely (if not more likely) to post on social media about poor experiences as satisfied ones. And as with customers who choose to gripe at your bricks-and-mortar store rather than online, you cannot just simply ignore them.
If consumers are using your company’s social media pages as complaint departments, other fans will notice. If you choose to ignore complaints (or worse) respond impolitely or defensively, momentum will build and you will have a legion of unhappy customers. This unified force has the power to discredit your online presence and influence whether or not potential customers choose to do business with you or not.
In our age of social media, almost everybody reads online product and business reviews before making a purchase or contracting services. And if a potential customer finds a number of unresolved issues from unsatisfied customers, they might just take their business elsewhere!
The best way to deal with any customer complaint is to react quickly and politely, as Jim did at Village Brewery, to resolve the issue. Customer satisfaction is key, especially with the transparency and visibility of social media to other potential customers. Negative experiences and unresolved conflicts harm your company’s reputation and signal other customers to stay away. Remember, a social media savvy customer that has had a bad experience with your company, can do irreparable damage to your brand, all with a click of the mouse!