How social media can hurt business relationships


The social web may be the most revolutionary marketing tool since the advent of radio.  I don’t have to tell you why at this point.  But for all the opportunities, there can also be danger, if the technology is mis-applied or misunderstood. Here are some ways social media can destroy customer relationships:

1)      Hit and run communication.  Many people, especially under-20s who have been conditioned to handle conflict over text messages, mis-use the technology. If 80 percent of communication is non-verbal, how much is lost when customers provide customer service issues over a tweet?  We are more likely to be unprofessional, harsh and inappropriate in writing than in a live conversation and unfortunately, more and more important customer interactions are taking place over short-form messages.

2)      False sense of expectations.  I’ve observed that some companies are urgently getting into the social media scene and then being unprepared for the response.  It’s so easy to connect with customers today, but you better be prepared to connect with them in a meaningful and appropriate way or you will disappoint them and then lose them.

3)      Over-dependence on social media. Pick up a phone. Make a personal visit. Write a thank-you note. Don’t get too hooked on communicating through only social media, especially if it’s not your customer’s preferred way to communicate.   Going old school can actually help you stand out.

4)      Wrong person in charge.  Some companies pick a person to run their social media efforts just because they have a nice Facebook page. Wrong.  Like your website or your sales and customer service efforts, this is your front line of defense. I would much rather have an experienced customer service person learn social media than a social media person learn customer service.

5)      Customers are learning to game us.  I had a company president tell me that he no longer responds to customer complaints over Twitter. Customers caught on that complaints meant free merchandise and the company became overwhelmed. So they just stopped until they can figure out a solution.  Now even people with real complaints are being ignored because it is too difficult to separate the real problems from the gamers.

So, there are a few dangers withn the opportunities. What do you think?  What customer-related dangers could be prompted by using social media in your business?

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