Saturday, May 21, 2011

Do's and don'ts on Facebook. Learn from the biggest.

Recently my friend had a trouble with her flight with Norwegian, one of the biggest operators in Scandinavia. So I went to the air-company’s Facebook page and found the Discussion Board where I could share my (in this case) her experience of their nonexistent customer care. But this post is not about the complaints, it is about how the air-companies handle the Facebook communication.

To be able to paste my opinion I had to look for the Discussion Board. When I found one that looked like something I could use (called “Customer service?”) there was only a few people who had ever shared their experiences, and no answers from the air-company. So I pasted my story and one of those people answered to me. Not the Norwegian... The air-company did answer though, after 2 weeks of silence. What did they write? I could not believe my eyes, seriously:

Facebook is not a correct place to go through such topics, because Facebook is to help customers with general questions”. Then there was a suggestion to write a complaint and send it by post (a real post address, not e-mail).

Are you laughing just as I did when I saw this? Then you probably don't need to read further. If you are not, please do read.

Don't tell your customers what they can or can not say on Facebook. Facebook IS for such cases. In fact all the social media is created for customers to share whatever they like (that was exactly what I wrote to answer the air-company's post, also advising to read Jeff Jarvis' book "What Would Google Do?").

The story continues. After I wrote that we – customers – can actually write whatever we want, that guy I mentioned before – one of the unhappy customers – agreed on that and posted his opinion. “Customers can share their experiences for better or for worse. And in this case it is for worse”.

What could the Norwegian do? They wrote a standard answer: “We don't forbid to share your opinions and we care for our customers” and so on. Bookish and useless. The first post already showed their attitude.

So the conclusion is a DO: Think twice before you write something, because you can't change it. Even if you delete it, it can look even worse – the one who was supposed to read it, already did. And he or she can easily turn that against you.

Don't use the Facebook page only to tell the visitors about yourself. You have a web page or a blog for sharing "the general information". News are good, but it is not only the news that should be pushed on the customers. 

When someone Likes your page, they start to receive updates from you. If they like your updates, they push Like button on them too. And thus they give a sign that they want more updates from you. And whenever you publish a new update, they get it. If your updates are all the same, typical and uninteresting (news news news), they customers stop reacting, and updates stop coming to them. What is the use of your news if nobody reads them?

The next DO thus is: Use the communication opportunity in your own good. Facebook is all about communication: Customer to Customer and Business to Customer. Facebook users get inspired if they see the communication.

As I said before, I had to look for a Discussion Board to say what I wanted, because the Wall of  the Norwegian is full of news. I was shy to paste anything else there. As a matter of fact, I went to their competitor's Facebook page - the SAS airlines- and there one can see all the customers' opinions right on the Wall. And the company's representatives answer to all of them. They don't even have Discussion Boards.

I pasted something (it was also a small complaint, to check what they would do) and got an answer in 5 minutes (not 2 weeks)! On Saturday! Moreover, I got a link where I could send my full opinion – a LINK – not a post address (we are not in the 80's any more).

To be totally clear, there are a lot of posts on this air-company's Facebook page with complaints about bonus-points, quality and refund. And the staff handles them friendly and apologizes, gives advice, sends information in private messages and shared necessary links. I saw also that other customers answered a lot of questions in addition to the air-company's answers, gave tips and advice. 

So here comes one more DO: Let everyone share what they want on your Wall. Thus both you and others will see and get inspired to communicate. And you can show your professionalism by handling complaints. You know how to do it well from TripAdvisor experience. Check out the free webinar if you doubt.

One more DO: Answer to all posts, and as soon as possible. It is your business, and your customers want to see that you care both for them and for your reputation. 

As an additional conclusion: My friend refuses to fly with Norwegian now. And I will think twice before I use them next time. And I think we are not the only ones. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Simply killing some in between class time on Digg and I found your article . Not usually what I choose to read about, however it was completely value my time. Thanks.