With an increasing number of consumers – and particularly those under the age of 25 –  expecting customer service through social media channels, brands have a new and highly visible opportunity to turn negative sentiment into public and positive advocacy.

Successful social customer service, however, treads a fine line; if the brand takes too long, or instead chooses not to respond, then what begins as an isolated incidence of negativity can quickly snowball.

Never is this truer than in the eye of a PR storm.

A recent example of this is Claire’s Accessories’ decision not to respond to fan accusations that the company has copied multiple jewelry designs from independent firm, Tatty Devine.

This is the second time that this type of allegation has been thrown at the brand – and the second time the brand has chosen not to engage with the large volume of fans addressing the issue on Twitter and Facebook, with a number of fans accusing the company of going as far as deleting their Wall posts.

As a result of widespread Twitter speculation the story has spilled over into highly visible online news sites; the search legacy of which will provide a subsequent impact in sentiment for the brand.

 

Similarly, supermarket chain, Tesco, also chose not to respond to online customer complaints, when the company withdrew its support for Gay Pride. User experience company, Webcredible, found that in the post-Christmas period, 66% of tweets surrounding the chain largely related to Gay Pride and were negative in sentiment.

While an explanation or apology might not fix the problem, it certainly goes some way towards showing the customer that a brand is not only listening, but learning from its mistakes.

If you would like to find out more about the way social media is reshaping the relationship between customers and brands, then immediate future MD, Katy Howell, is speaking at The Social Customer 2012 conference in London on March 29.

For details and to find out how to claim immediate future’s exclusive 10% discount contact info@immediatefuture.co.uk.

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