Today’s consumers look to social media as a prime way to reach out to businesses for customer service needs. From requesting help with a problem, to simple answers to product questions, many consumers take to platforms such as Twitter and Facebook.
Recently, Facebook upped the ante for businesses with a new way to communicate with customers that post to their Facebook wall. It comes with public accountability ratings to motivate businesses to pay attention to those customers and respond quickly.
In the past, when a business encountered a complaint on its Facebook page, it had to reply publicly and ask the customer to message the business to take the conversation into a more private setting. Of course, it was always the customer’s choice whether to comply, or continue to air their frustrations publicly on the company’s Facebook page. The company could not initiate the private conversation – only the consumer could.
On August 5, Facebook began rolling out a new, more business-friendly way for companies to reply to customers. Now, when a consumer posts to a company’s Facebook page, the company can chose to either message the customer privately, or respond publicly. Presumably, this new feature is an effort by Facebook to allow businesses to communicate with unhappy customers without having to do so in a public setting. The trade-off is that Facebook will also hold businesses accountable for their non-responsiveness and make the results public.
Consumers visiting business Facebook pages will now know immediately if the company is paying attention and how responsive it is. Perhaps the page visitor is simply visiting to decide if they wish to do business with the company. It certainly won’t impress them if the business is labeled as unresponsive. To qualify for the “very responsive to messages” label, companies must respond to “90 percent of messages and have a median response time of less than five minutes.” That’s a pretty tall order for most companies. But, through the various notification tools and apps, isn’t impossible.
If a company chooses to message privately, rather than reply publicly, the customer’s post indicates to other visitors that “the business responded privately.” In this way, other Page visitors can know that the business handled the request. There are certainly occasions when a company may find it more appropriate to respond privately, such as customer complaints, grievances or concerns. Facebook seems to recognize that some situations are more delicate than others and does not differentiate between public versus private replies when calculating a company’s responsiveness rating.
It is imperative to be responsive to your customer’s concerns. Not just because it’s one of the most basic good business practices, but also because it is one of the first steps in building brand loyalty. If customers see that a business is responsive to their (or others) needs, they can then gain the impression that the business cares about its customers. Being labeled as unresponsive to customers could make a potential customer think twice about doing business with you. It could also show your current customers that you aren’t paying attention and leave the impression that you don’t care.
If your company hasn’t been paying attention to customers who post on your Facebook page, now would be a good time to start.