Every organization is striving hard to come to grips with the evolving consumer behavior. The surge of digital and mobile platforms and growing influence of social media have drastically changed the market dynamics, putting customers in the driving seat. Today, consumers have become extremely discerning, they form opinion at the drop of a hat and post scathing reviews online. It is no longer about offering value for money but also a delightful overall brand experience to ensure loyalty and stickiness.
While organizations are pulling out all the stops to ensure targeted marketing to drive deeper engagement, very few adopt effective crisis management to offer superior customer service and grievance redressal experience. Although according to a recent report, there is a big shift in the challenge and it is not about relevant marketing but accountability.
Social media can be an excellent tool for businesses to handle a crisis situation effectively and in some cases even limit damage before it spirals out of control. Whether it is negative reviews or publicity or website downtime crisis, social media has the potential to control the situation and messages in real-time, ensuring better outcome. So, here’s a three-step cheat sheet to using social networks for crisis management.
Keep your ear to the ground
‘There is no such thing as bad publicity’- well that does not hold true anymore in this market space. And, so you need to monitor social posts closely to find out what consumers are saying about your brand. The only way to effectively deal with a crisis is to find out about it. Social listening helps analyze customer responses and sentiments towards your brand whether it is good or bad. Social listening can alert you of a potential crisis, help you assess the scope of the issue and suggest most relevant and appropriate response to overcome the problem. It is therefore critical to factor social media into crisis communications strategy.
For starters, you can create alerts using social listening tools based on specific keywords or hike in some activities or negativities. This will help identify sudden change in conversations or customer sentiment in real-time, enabling you to assess damages and take corrective action proactively.
First acknowledge then act
Do not react immediately, but do not remain silent either as you assess the situation. Acknowledge customers grievances. In absence of response people assume guilt, which can spiral the situation. The best way to deal is to maintain transparency, acknowledge and inform you are looking into the situation and ways to solve the issue and will get back within a prescribed timeframe. And of course, once you have established the area for improvement, thank your customer for the feedback and inform them about the corrective actions.
A very important trait while managing these crisis situation is ‘empathy’. Most successful social media community managers are empathetic. One has to understand that a brand is what customers perceive it to be, so do not go fighting, trying to prove customers wrong. Empathy, therefore goes a long way and helps you adopt the most acceptable and distinguishable tone, enabling you to connect better even in an adverse situation.
Be proactive to resolve the situation
‘A stitch in time saves nine’- yes, a timely response can not only prevent a crisis from spiraling out of control but in some cases, alleviate the situation entirely and save brands image. It is therefore essential to monitor social media closely and frequently to address a crisis, communicate and prevent a disgruntled customer from reaching a wider audience, ensuring timely resolution and better customer experience.
In a ‘real-time’ world of social media, managing reputation matters more than ever, because you can lose it in a blink of an eye. So basic principles of crisis management are – be proactive, transparent and above all accountable. In other words, identify, acknowledge and apologize and resolve.
Be quick, stay relevant – or let us bail you out!
If you already are following these tenets and all these stages are working in one fluid loop, then you are home. If not, connect with us today!