I was reminded about this last week via a couple of very different experiences.
My gym has a Facebook page. I "liked" it the other day and left a message asking about its opening hours over Easter. I didn't hear a word back. My confusion and frustration was increased when the gym's answer phone said to look at their website, but the website said nothing. You may ask me what I am getting my knickers in a twist about. The reality is this experience has led to me being a dissatisfied customer, which is dangerous for my gym considering the large amount of competition in Dunedin.
This experience is in contrast with two very positive social media experiences.
I was having trouble with my cell phone, and yet again, was having terrible trouble getting hold of a "live" person to talk to. The Telecom website and my cell phone directory was sending me round and round in circles and I got to the point that I was ready to throw my phone out the window! As a last resort I sent a desperate tweet to the Telecom Twitter account - @TelecomNZ. Within 10 minutes I had a phone call from a very nice lady at Telecom and she sorted me out. That left me a very happy customer.
My second positive experience was with a travel agent who uses Facebook.
I have been looking at hotels to stay in LA, when we go there in May. I found the Magellan website but couldn't see a way to contact them other than phone. I didn't want to ring an American number so I asked them to contact me, via their Facebook page. Again, within 10-15 minutes I had a lovely chap ring me from the USA and sorted out my booking in no time at all. To say I was impressed was an under statement.
Time and resources
Social media can be used to connect with customers, which results in satisfied customers and increases loyalty to your brand, and product or service. But if you decide to use social media, such as Twitter or Facebook, you have to be prepared to reply and converse with customers. This means you have to invest in time and resources to monitor your site, and be prepared to respond to customers in a very timely manner.
As a customer, I want to hear back from a business within 24 hours. If you do not engage with me, especially after I have made the effort to talk to you, then you will lose me as a customer. This is because I will see your lack of effort as a indication of your general behaviour and service.
So if you cannot do social media well, then don't do it at all.
Image: 'Customer service'