The strategic value of criticism in the media and social networks
Open and honest dialogue is the basis of a good reputation in social networks. However, the opinions we receive or read about us or our companies are not always flattering or cordial.
When criticism is caused by defects in a product or service, or because customers feel disappointed in the attention at a certain time, it is key to remember that ignoring them does not make them disappear. In addition, in certain cases, avoiding them can be worse. The root of the discontent is there, and to discourage them can have a “snowball” effect.
As in any communicational event, understanding the motivations and expectations of clients helps us to be able to dialogue with them in a constructive manner. It is essential to bear in mind that many of these motivations and expectations were created by the companies themselves, with the promises they make.
In other words, if a company spends its time advertising that it is at the forefront of technology, it is understandable that its customers are infuriated by service failures related to computer systems.
Likewise, customers will also find it very contradictory that a “mega modern” company be bureaucratic, use many manual processes, or become entangled to handle simple requests from their consumers.
Even when the criticisms are the product of ignorance of norms and conditions, the purpose of the attention remains the same: to help the client to understand what his options are to satisfy a specific need.
Communication importance of criticism
In general, less than 10% of clients have the courage and invest their time in pointing out a failure or expressing an opportunity for improvement to a company. Most do not openly express their dissatisfaction because:
- He is afraid that the company will respond with reprisals. For example, many of us believe that in some restaurants it is better not to ask us to change our food or fight with the innkeepers.
- He does not believe that the company will do something positive to correct the situation. If the company does not have a clear disposition to attend well from the beginning, why or what would it do next?
- Why invest time and run the risk of a bad deal if we are not going to need that company again?
For these reasons, companies must take criticism as a true gift, regardless of the way they are expressed.
Adverse comments indicate that something is not working well. But, it takes a lot of maturity and professionalism to interpret them as an opportunity for high-value improvement, without getting distracted by the “aggressiveness” of the criticism.
If we are communicatively assertive, we will not get hooked in a personal and emotional way in the complaints, nor in the way they reach us. If we are aware of the promises made by our company, then we can understand that if a client feels he feels disrespected or deceived, he will not express it with sweetness. It is predictable and we can train to attend to you in a professional manner.
Of course, there are “trolls” on the Internet.
The word “troll” is used on the Internet to refer to provocative people, who seek to create controversies, insult and / or writing offensive messages. How to identify them? We must investigate their profile well in their own social networks, and for them there are different types of responses.
But, putting aside that minimum segment of unscrupulous interlocutors, most of the observations, suggestions or criticisms are made by true clients.
If they are analyzed in detail, in many cases they are not properly “critical”, but very concrete practical observations that any intelligent company could use to make immediate improvements. But not many understand it.
For example, these days I went to the reception of a hotel to ask if the Internet connection was faster than in the rooms. The person who answered me answered that my question was very strange, because “nobody had complained before”.
The Starbuck company discovered that in the criticism of its customers there was a gold mine in operational savings and product innovation. So much so that he developed his own website to receive suggestions and complaints, through which he was able to know more than 100 thousand timely ideas in just 2 years (something very difficult and expensive to achieve with traditional methods of market research).
Keep in mind that criticism is part of customer relationships in social networks. If it is not about “trolls”, ignoring or deleting negative comments on Facebook or Twitter is like “running the wrinkle” or “wringing the bulge”. By postponing them, we manage to make mistakes grow in the shadow of resentment and discomfort, and to become even more complex.
Confusions in the companies on the “critics”
There are companies that do not understand that, although their products or services are massive, the perception of the client is individual. Therefore, the attention must also be individual. Seen this way, a criticism does not mean that everything is wrong, but that particular client needs more attention.
Big companies have trouble assimilating this. Many of its executives do not understand the irreversible trend of the individualization of customer service, which is being pushed especially by the social networks themselves.
In this sense, companies must learn to publicly apologize to that client, who feels disappointed, cheated or disrespected, because the product or service did not work the way he expected.
Properly apologizing to a particular client is not an act of weakness, nor does it mean recognizing that a product or service does not work. On the contrary, it is a powerful act of humility with that client. By expressing to him that “we regret this situation,” recognition, courage and dignity are transmitted to him.
But the arrogance in some companies does not let them see these opportunities. Many managers are unaware of the strategic importance of empathy and the value of “being people” in social networks.
Of course, it is understandable that many are afraid and feel threatened. Public criticisms expose in some way their management skills. But customers do not expect absolute perfection in products and services, but a professional attitude towards them.