Some airlines now employ professional apologisers and many other companies also think it is good to apologise – these days often as a response to tweets, but only apologise do not use the opportunities social media gives.
I have for some time had a twitter account where I have explored how companies respond when they are mentioned in a positive or negative way. There seems to be four types of companies (in addition the dinosaurs, like Barclays Bank, that doesn’t use social media at all).
- Me too companies have a social media account, but do not monitor it or just use it to push sales messages out (@sainsburys @NRE_SWT are examples of this).
- The polite companies say sorry when mentioned in a negative way or even say thanks when mentioned in a positive way – however you don’t see any other result.
- The helpful company try to resolve a problem when it is made public (even I suspect some companies do it more for PR reasons than commitment to customer service and feedback – PR teams don’t like negative publicity). (example @UKTomTom)
- The learning company engage with the customers and try to learn and improve in addition to help (an example of this is @PeterAtSkype.
It surprises me how many companies that just are polite or try to be helpful but aren’t using social media to it full potential. Social media is a fantastic opportunity to engage with customers and to learn and improve products and services – it can be as simple as improve the FAQ section on a web-site but I have also seen companies making changes to products after engaging with users on twitter.
There will be cases where an apology is needed, but companies should focus on using social media to engage wither customers and get feedback rather than employing a team just to say sorry.