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Firms need preventative strategies to pre-empt social media crises
A flurry of activity on Facebook and Twitter could mean good news for a business, but it could also signal the start of a social media crisis. A new feature from Conversocial alerts marketers and customer service teams to upticks in user message volumes so action can be taken before things get out of hand.
Both the cinema chain Odeon and travel firm Ryanair know the perils of mixing customer service with social. In August, both experienced the power of social to escalate a negative customer experience to epic viral proportions.
A post on Odeon's Facebook Page in the UK during August 2012, complaining about the high cost and poor service of one of their outlets, generated 122,468 Likes and 10,408 comments in just a few days. Due to a Bank Holiday, there was no intervention from Odeon for 19 hours, and even then it was a short and rather hurried response.
Similarly, when a Ryanair passenger was asked to pay £236 to have 4 boarding-passes printed out at the airport (she had been unable to print them in her remote holiday villa), she took to Facebook to find out if others thought this was fair. Over 650,000 people have now 'Liked' the post and it has been commented on by over 30,000.
Ryanair managed to turn the Facebook saga into a PR disaster. The airline's chief executive Michael O'Leary also publicly labeled the passenger an "idiot who deserves to pay for her stupidity".
However, Odeon learned a valuable lesson - it's no longer enough for brands of their size to engage with social media activity purely within business hours and without a social media crisis management plan.
The cinema chain has teamed up with social customer service specialists, Conversocial, to up its social customer service performance. It is making use of a new feature of Conversocial's Priority Response Engine. Called 'Social Alerts', the feature can identify unusual increases in customer messages and provide customized warnings.
"The ability to identify social media crises before they happen demonstrates a larger trend, namely that brands are looking for preventative ways to protect their online reputation," says Joshua March, CEO of Conversocial. "'Social Alerts' aims to provide an industry-standard solution to the fear of social media crises, and prevent customer service issues from spiraling out of control."
'Social Alerts' keeps customer service teams informed of any potential social media issues via the cloud or mobile to ensure a real-time response, rather than let a situation fester for many hours. According to Conversocial, "Any abnormal increase in consumer activity on social media channels will immediately alert management, enabling them to better understand developing crises, gauge the tone of consumers, and coordinate a team to respond accordingly in order to prevent any potential social media crisis from escalating beyond repair."
In the past few months, the number of consumers in the UK using social media to 'talk' to companies has almost doubled from 19% to 36% in April 2012. Today, 18 million are using social media for customer services purposes, found research by Fishburn Hedges and Echo Research.
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