Many companies have embraced social media as a vital asset in their marketing strategy. Despite all those benefits, however, social media can quickly be turned against companies when angry customers use it to vent their frustrations toward a company.
Combating that anger on social media can be simple for companies as long as they get in front of a problem to prevent it from growing. That's the finding of new research which suggests that problems grow based on the amount of time it takes for companies to respond to negative comments, videos or blog posts.
"When customers can vent their frustrations directly to employees of the firm, the channel of communication between the service provider and consumer becomes much stronger, allowing for a more open conversation where both parties can create and mutually agree upon possible solutions," said Yuliya Strizhakova of Rutgers University, who conducted the research with fellow Rutgers professor Julie A. Ruth and Yelena Tsarenko, of Australia's Monash University. "This direct relationship also allows service personnel to provide the empathy and emotional support that customers are looking for."
Aside from quickly responding to negativity on social media, the researchers also suggest managers should offer complimentary services in order to soothe the customers' anger. Those managers are also the best line of defense to help prevent problems from spreading, which is a big concern when dealing with social media, the researchers said.
Additionally, the researchers suggest that managers should consider hiring customer service personnel so they can more quickly answer questions and respond to angry consumers.
"In such cases, direct and meaningful engagement between both parties is crucial," said Katherine Lemon, a professor at Boston College and editor of the Journal of Service Research where the research was published. "The plethora of public forums providing a far-reaching voice to disgruntled consumers necessitates quick, sincere and personal attention from managers."