Real Simple is launching a “Be Nice On the Internet Week” starting January 9 to January 13. Their article on social disgrace presented some pretty dismal stats on how rude and inconsiderate we can be online. Being nice on the Internet applies to businesses in a slightly different way than some of the etiquette outlined in the Real Simple article.
Here are some of the pitfalls for social disgrace as a small business:
1. Responding to negative comments & reviews in a heated defensive manner. Chances are you’ll say something regrettable and you are just broadcasting your negative side to the entire planet forever. Feelings may be fleeting, but the Internet is forever.
2. Being ego-centric and not being an actual resource in your online activities. It’s all about YOU and not about your customers. It’s just a little rude to always talk about how great you think you are. People want to see what you know about the field you work in, how you stack up to the competition (what makes you different) and what their peers think about you.
3. Censoring negative comments instead of addressing them transparently. See #1. Same thing. If it was that juicy, you can bet that someone’s already grabbed a screenshot. Better to just address the problem in an honest way. Mistakes can be forgiven. Deceit and censorship erodes trust. Trust that’s already threadbare when it comes to business.
4.Assuming I want to like your page or follow your stream just because. Give me a compelling reason and be clear about what it is. Don’t promise ‘discounts & tips’ if there aren’t any. This is about taking the time to know your customers and what they want. Your customers don’t want a relationship. They want you to help them solve a problem. So… help them. Your online presence can serve as a trusted resource not a billboard. If your Twitter stream is about customer service, then monitor it and answer in an crisis.
5. Having only a lousy contract form on your website. No email, no phone number. Just a stinkin’ form with no indication as to how long it’ll take to hear from somebody. It just says, I’m too busy for you. Take a number, hold the line and your call will be answered eventually. Sorry. To me, this is just dropping the ball. Give people alternatives. Some like email, some want to call and yet others still like snail mail. Make these options available for complete customer service.
The week of January 9th ought to be interesting. I wonder if there will be a noticeable change in the mood of status updates and blog posts? Stay tuned. Read more at the Real Simple site.