Harness Members’ Social Power

Consumers can contribute immediately and powerfully to a better service experience.

October 1, 2012
Companies that don’t embrace social media today are missing huge opportunities to capitalize on the voices of their customers, says Ron Kaufman, author of “Uplifting Service: The Proven Path to Delighting Your Customers, Colleagues, and Everyone Else You Meet.”

That’s because consumers can contribute immediately and powerfully to a better service experience.

Social media has become an integral part of the consumer experience, Kaufman says. But few companies fully embrace this new social reality—presumably because they’re afraid of negative comments.

Kaufman suggests taking seven steps to encourage consumers to use social media in ways that benefit your organization:

1. Make it easy for them to go social. When communicating with members, include information about social review sites where they can share their experiences. This shows confidence and can lead to great word-of-mouth publicity.

2. Say thank you. It’s a simple gesture, but it can go a long way.

3. Invite them to reach out. Acknowledge members’ social networks during service delivery. It’s a great way to immediately capitalize on interactions with members.

4. Ask how you can improve. Be open to feedback and encourage members to bring their complaints directly to you so you can immediately begin the service recovery process. This allows you to turn problems into opportunities and casual members into loyal ones.

5. Encourage members to recognize great one-on-one service. Collecting input about good employee-member experiences can benefit everyone by boosting morale, getting members focused on what employees are doing right, and giving employees measurable feedback.

6. Funnel member questions through social media. Displaying responses to consumer questions openly online also benefits other members with the same problem. And it improves future interactions.

7. Encourage members to talk about your brand. The best way to ensure members are spreading positive messages about your organization is to provide such great service that they can’t help but share their stories with others.

“Companies should be telling their customers, ‘If you did not enjoy our service, please tell us. If you did enjoy our service, please tell someone else,’ ” Kaufman says. “Engage them. Tell unhappy customers to come to you via social media so you can make it right and improve your overall service.”