In his closing keynote at the Social Media Marketing World 2015, Jay Baer stressed how important it is to embrace your critics and “Hug Your Haters” by responding to every complaint on every channel basically all the time. By doing so, companies can significantly increase sentiment metrics such as customer advocacy and conversely, if you fail to do so, customer advocacy will go down according to recent research on “The Science of Haters” that he has conducted in partnership with Tom Webster at Edison Research. He even went so far as saying that “answering complaints can have massive financial impact on your business.”
Reasons why companies do not respond to all complaints range from an unwillingness to dignify complaints to an inability to manage a large number of complaints or even find them in the first place. Still, Jay Baer suggests that with top management commitment and sufficient resources allocated, a company can, and should, respond to all complaints. He used KLM as a case study and mentioned that when the ash cloud from the Icelandic volcano wreaked havoc on flights a few years back, their CEO committed to responding to every complaint. Now they have a full 150 full-time employees dedicated to responding to online mentions across all channels.
An interesting distinction made by Jay Baer was the one he made between so-called onstage versus offstage haters. Offstage haters are those who complain about an experience through a private channel first and herein lies the opportunity for companies to help them out before they go public with their displeasure. Offstage haters skew towards an older demographic and they don’t complain as frequently as others and when they do so, they tend to do it from a computer, not from a mobile device.
Onstage haters, on the other hand, are younger, more mobile and tend to also complain more frequently. When they do so, they go to public channels first and expect not only the company to respond, but also that others will see and perhaps chime in on the conversation about the brand. For onstage haters, it is important to have an audience that is watching the duel between the complainant and the company and that is why many review sites are humorous, colorful, and bold.
“Hating is a spectator sport.”– Jay Baer
One benefit of taking complaints seriously is that these can serve as an early detection system by which you can learn about customer sentiments that may become a bigger issue for more people down the road unless you do something about it. Jay Baer also pointed out that most complaints have at least some kernel of truth in them and studied carefully, complaints can provide extraordinary insights.
Consider getting the Virtual Pass to Social Media Marketing World 2015 which should provide a rich library of materials for the year to come, cannot recommend it enough!
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