How ‘AIR’ Can Help You Put Out Your Social Media Fires

How ‘AIR’ Can Help You Put Out Your Social Media Fires

“Why does your product suck so bad? Have I mentioned I hate you?”, the tweet reads. Immediately, you go into red-alert mode, frantically leaping into action to handle the issue. You look at the history with the poster’s account, and can’t find anyone with that name, or any account with the company listed in their Twitter profile. It could be a tweet from a competitor. It could be a tweet from a disgruntled former customer. Or, it could be an actual customer with an actual problem. How you handle this type of interaction helps shape you to your audience and customers, so it’s imperative that you handle it correctly. I’m going to show you how ‘AIR’ can help you overcome these issues and turn them into positive experiences for all.

1. Assess The Issue

The first thing to do when you are targeted on social media by a tweet, a post you’re tagged in, or a direct message, is work out what the problem is. Are they simply complaining for complaining-sake? Are they bemoaning a feature or function you don’t have, or can’t do? Ask yourself: “is there something here I can fix, or is there a way I can help turn this issue into something positive?” Use empathy to put yourself in their shoes, and see if you can understand why they’re frustrated. If their reason isn’t something you can fix, or they’re just trolling you, let it go. Make note of the issue and account holder to pass on to any relevant departments. If there’s a way you can turn this experience into something positive for them, do due diligence.

A recent study showed that 35% of customers preferred using social media to handle service issues, compared to 16% who preferred calling into a brand’s 1-800 number.

2. Investigate The Problem

The second step – if you’ve identified that the issue is on your end – is to figure out the correct course of action to get the problem fixed. From there make sure to get all the relevant information from the customer having the problem. This can be done (and should be done) by taking the conversation offline, onto Facebook’s Messenger, Twitter’s Direct Messages, or even LinkedIn’s InMail. Make sure you get the customer’s name, company name or the account, the issue they’re having, and a phone number and email address for following up. You’ll need this info to pass on to your support team.

If it’s something you’re able to figure out, or in your research you’ve found a solution for the issue, share it with the customer. Check your own FAQs or Support sites to see if there’s something you can offer them.

3. Respond. Or Not.

The next thing you need to do is respond to the customer on the post they mentioned you in. There are a couple of rules of engagement that you should keep in mind. If the comments are coming from a customer or prospect, then the first step is to notify them that that your team is working on a solution or you are working to find out the answer to their problem or issue, and that you will update them when possible. Second, don’t over-promise, and don’t set unrealistic expectations. Third, even if they’re angry, your response should always caring, kind, and genuine.
If the comments are coming from a ‘troll’, or there is not a constructive value in responding or engaging, let it go. There’s no way you can win. If they are speaking about features, products, or services you don’t yet or can’t offer, respond to them thanking them for their feedback, and that you will pass it along to the appropriate team. (And then actually do that.)

Whatever response you give, make sure you keep the “corporate speak” to the minimum, responding as if they were sitting in front of you. People want to do business with people, especially when they’re not happy about something, and when you add the human element back in on social media as much as possible, it can make their responses and actions more understanding. I have noticed that when I respond to a message or tweet and add my name at the end, the interactions are more civil and the other party generally tones the anger down.

ALWAYS remember that whatever you respond with, or react with, can be screenshot and posted on the internet for all to see. Keep that in mind when you craft a response, share sensitive or future plans, etc.

Don’t forget to follow-up to make sure that the issue was resolved by the appropriate team, and that customer is satisfied with the results. This shows that you genuinely care about their issue, and are putting effort and energy into making sure they feel valued and important. I’ve found that it goes a long way. All companies and brands have issues in their products or services, it’s how they’re handled that shapes how you are perceived in the market. A great example of this is how UK supermarket Tesco handled this customer who had an issue with a cucumber he purchased. You can imagine that after this exchange, people viewed Tesco in a very positive light, even though it could have gone the other way very easily.

Lastly, always make sure you show (and tell) your customers that you value and appreciate them and their business, no matter what dollar amounts they add to the bottom line. If it caused a lot of inconvenience, send them something small to smooth things over. It can be anything from swag, to product, to a one-time discount. You want to go above and beyond with kindness, because every customer matters, especially on social media. That’s why learning how to handle social media fires is so important. Remember, “Assess the Issue”, “Investigate the problem”, and “Respond, or Don’t.” Businesses (and people) are absolutely judged everyday by how they respond to issues on social media, and by following this AIR protocol, you can start providing a better customer service experience.

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Throwing money at it

Throwing money at it

There are three kinds of problems:

The first can be fixed with money. There’s a defect in the plumbing and you can’t get a permit to open until you fix it. The design team needs to hire a UI expert to improve the widget before it ships. The family can’t get a good night’s sleep with three little kids sleeping in one room…

The second can’t be fixed with money. These are issues of trust or judgment. Horrific injuries or crimes against nature. An old growth forest doesn’t grow back merely because you pay the trees more.

The third, of course, are problems that appear that they can be solved with money, but can’t. They range from the mythical man-month to the relationship that uses resources as a false proxy for other things yet to be discussed. Culture, process and expectations are tempting targets, but the resources spent often make the problem worse in the long run.

If a problem can be fixed with money or other resources, and you can afford it, you should do so, quickly, efficiently and without breaking a sweat. For the other kind of problems, resist that shortcut and get to the heart of the matter instead.

       

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5 Questions with Mike Ryan of Cloud On Tap

5 Questions with Mike Ryan of Cloud On Tap

Editor’s Note: This post concludes our Amazing Moments of B2B Marketing Inspiration series. 

This week, we’re excited to feature one of our Pardot Partners, Cloud On Tap, and their CEO, Mike Ryan. Mike Ryan is the CEO of Cloud on Tap, a Salesforce Implementation Partner and Pardot Select Partner. He oversees the project management, related product/app partnerships, and the technological advancement and direction of Cloud on Tap. Mike holds the following certifications: Pardot Consultant, Salesforce Force.com Developer, Salesforce Administrator and Salesforce Sales Cloud Consultant. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing from Clemson University. Here’s his Five Questions, enjoy!

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What are you most excited about in the current B2B marketing scene?

The ability to deliver a personalized experience to leads and clients with tools such as Pardot’s Engagement Studio. B2B marketing is finally recognizing the actual people behind the business that make it possible. “Relationship marketing” isn’t just another buzz phrase.

What do you see as your biggest marketing challenges?

First, understanding that “7 Reasons Why This Is The Best Marketing Plan Ever” is good marketing on their part, but bad marketing on our part to believe it’s a guaranteed fit for our clients, company, and services. Second, stop marketing to everyone. Our services aren’t for everyone. Your company isn’t one-size-fits-all, so stop marketing to ‘all.’

What do you wish you had more of for your teams?

What everyone wants: time! Our marketing team works hard to be Pardot experts for our clients, build our own marketing content, keep up with blogs, social media, and live events, and they stay fresh on everything they can in the digital marketing world. Being a Pardot expert gives a fine balance of time to learn and time to grow.

What inspires you, and why?

The competitive challenges ahead and the constant opportunities to grow both technically and
creatively. What are we going to learn today to increase our Cloud Computing IQ and efficiency? What new ideas are going to be explored to inspire the creative side of the business? Then convert that knowledge and energy over to the Clients on-boarding projects so they can be the beneficiaries of all our internal efforts.

What is your greatest marketing achievement so far

Our marketing team has been exploding with ideas lately, and it’s paying off in the form of
#TapTipTuesday videos on our Instagram where we provide Pardot and marketing tips (we’re loving the feedback on those!), high engagement on our Ascent: Gamified Pardot Learning List Email announcement, and finally some true marketing campaigns (Upcoming: #CampCloud) that have allowed us to branch out, testing new mediums such as Buzzfeed, Snapchat, and Facebook Live videos. A career in marketing means endless learning, trial and error, and plenty of success. As long as our team is still learning and growing, we’re going to achieve all our goals.

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"The main topic that's been on everybody's mind"

"The main topic that's been on everybody's mind"

Is almost never the one that’s worth talking about.

The urgency of the day, today’s celebrity crisis, the thing of the moment… that’s what the media wants, that’s what creates urgency, and that’s what is most definitely not important.

We now follow that same path at work.

No excuses for the reporter (and editor) that pursue a story merely because it’s on everybody’s mind. Or the boss or the VC, either. That’s not a good enough reason to waste our attention on it.

Step by step, drip by drip, you carve your path by focusing on what matters, not what’s on everybody’s mind. By the time you try to chase the urgent thing, it’s too late.

       

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Five Questions with Brian Carroll

Five Questions with Brian Carroll

This week’s Five Questions features one of our favorite marketing leaders, Brian Carroll. Brian has been a leader in the B2B marketing space for the many years, speaking at conferences and events all over the world. He’s the founder of the B2B Lead Blog, and writes regularly about the challenges B2B marketers face everyday. He’s spoken at Dreamforce, Connections, and many other events, and is leading a charge for empathy marketing, or marketing that centers itself around the needs of customers. Enjoy Brian’s Five Questions!

What are you most excited about in the current B2B marketing scene?

We’re at an excellent time for B2B marketing. The Internet, customer buying behavior, digital marketing and the rise of mar-tech have created a whole new marketing and sales world. We’re leveraging tools and approaches that didn’t exist ten years ago, and new companies and careers are now built up around them. This is a fantastic time to be a B2B marketer. Why? We can make a huge difference in companies that – until recently – were entirely sales driven, but now they need to become buyer centric. B2B marketers are in an unusual position to influence and lead their companies to become more customer centric.

What do you see as your biggest marketing challenges?

The biggest challenges are for marketers to get prepared for the future of B2B Marketing and adapt to change. Why? Marketers are swamped, and often trying to get way too much done in too little time. The irony is that we marketers – by the very nature of what we do, are constantly trying to predict what’s going to happen next. We spend our time answering questions like ‘what’s our next big campaign?’ ‘How will this new channel perform at generating leads?’ and ‘will this strategy work?’ But marketers seldom if at all get to sit back and wonder about the broader future of marketing.

I predict the future of marketing and sales will include more technology and tech concepts like machine learning, predictive data analytics, and self-optimizing systems. These tools will enable and augment marketers in ways we haven’t imagined. But here’s the thing: at its core, marketing, sales, and lead generation will always be about building relationships. Technology can’t replace our intuition, and there’s no way to automate trust. Building our customers belief and trust takes time. And that’s why I’m doing new research on empathetic marketing because we need to be prepared to embrace the future.

What do you wish you had more of for your teams?

I just finished a stint as Chief Evangelist at MECLABS, and now I’m back to helping B2B marketers understand and execute modern lead generation via my consulting and workshops. But if I had a team, I’d want more practical training for them on how to use marketing technology to assist in building real connections with customers.

What or who inspires you, and why?

I believe marketing can and is a force for good. I’m inspired to change the way people think about marketing. Marketing isn’t something you do to people; it’s something you do for people. In short, the best marketing feels like helping (because it is).

What is your greatest marketing achievement so far?

When I launched my book, Lead Generation for the Complex Sale, I wanted to give something away that people could use to start implementing ideas from my book even if they never bought a copy. So I wrote an ebook, “Start with a Lead: 8 Critical Success Factors for Lead Generation. It was a summary of chapter 6 of my book and focused on building a lead generation plan. Well, that ebook book took off. There were 12,000 downloads in the first month, and then suddenly there were 19,000 downloads. We lost track of the total downloads when they exceeded 50,000 because we allowed the book to be distributed via creative commons license. It’s still distributed 10-years later. I’m happy that so many people found it helpful.

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