Hug Your Haters: A Social Marketing Case Study

During his keynote at Social Media Marketing World this year, Jay Baer proclaimed that “by 2020, customer experience will overtake price as the key brand differentiator.” He explained the science of customer experience, the importance of making them feel heard and the enormous return that can come from showing customers that they matter.

Especially when it comes to those who have taken the time to raise their hand. Whether on Twitter, Yelp, Facebook, email, phone call or handwritten letter, companies need to mitigate the high cost of unanswered customer complaints by choosing to embrace and respond. Having a response plan in place can save a dissatisfied customer from turning into what Jay calls a “hater.”

Haters are going to Hate. That cannot controlled. But how a brand handles that hater determines the ultimate outcome:

  • Answering complaints INCREASES customer advocacy.
  • NOT Answering complaints DECREASES customer advocacy.
  • So every complaint needs to be answered. In every channel. Everytime.

In Hug Your Haters: How to Embrace Complaints and Turn Bad News to Good, Jay points out that many businesses fear the perceived vulnerability to “haters” or negative feedback that social media presents. And therefore miss out on an incredible opportunity that removing the barrier to complaints offers. Responding to a complaint increases advocacy by 20%, and not responding drops advocacy 43%.

Here is a case study on how one company remained present, proactive successfully Hugged a Hater into becoming a brand evangelist:

Case Study: Social Media Examiner

During his keynote at SMMW15, Michael Stelzner launched a project that he had been working on for almost a year. He called it the Social Media Marketing Society (SMMC). The purpose of this members-only society he explained would be to provide serious marketers (and business owners) a go-to resource for world-class training on the newest social media marketing tactics and ideas.

social media marketing society Background

As founder and CEO of Social Media Examiner, Michael Stelzner has built a reputation and a following for reliably producing high-quality social marketing content every day for almost ten years to a growing list of 388,000+ subscribers. He hosts the daily Social Media Examiner Show and the weekly 45 minute podcast. And is the driving force behind Social Media Marketing World (SMMW), the world’s largest social media conference. So I knew this was big news. I agreed to sign on as a “founder” and be part of the official launch.

Following the event, as part of the founder’s list, we received a series of comprehensive training videos. We were granted exclusive access to the SMMS platform, and given the opportunity to be the first members.  The monthly membership fee appeared to be well worth the investment at that point, so I accepted. And as one of the first SMMS accounts, it was astonishing to watch as membership went from 10 to 500 members in a matter of a couple hours.

The Problem

Then out of nowhere, I was suddenly disconnected from the site. Assuming it was just a connection problem, I attempted to log back in. But had no success. I continued to receive multiple error messages. The most alarming alerted me that my SMMS account was no longer available. This had quickly escalated from a connection problem to an account access problem. After some back and forth with support, I found out that a technical glitch between Paypal and the SMMS site resulted in the cancellation of my payment and the deactivation of my SMMS membership and account.

Needless to say, I was quite dissatisfied. I began to question whether if was worth the hassle.

The Solution

That’s when the phone rang. It was Michael Stelzner. He wanted to let me know that he was aware of the technical problem with my account and he was making it his priority to have it resolved asap. He thanked me for my patience and let me know that relief was coming. Leslie Samuel, would be in touch shortly to walk me through restoring my account.

“And by the way, with your permission I would like to upgrade you to a LIFETIME MEMBERSHIP at our expense. So no further payment is necessary…ever.” Michael Stelzner said. 

The Lesson

In an instant, Michael Stelzner and his team took a potentially volatile situation and turned it into one of the most positive customer experiences ever! That will be endlessly shared for years to come.

“Haters are the canary in the coal mine,” Jay Baer says “It’s an early detection system for your business. They will tell you where your business needs to improve if you take the time to listen.”

Listen. Be proactive and Hug your Haters!

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