This is a post that originally appeared on my French blogging site a week or so ago, but I thought it was worth sharing here (in slightly altered form) as it has an important lesson for all businesses in the new Social Media World.
I was disappointed when booking our January crossing to France with Brittany Ferries, as I thought that the price (£263 for 2 adults plus a car) was a bit steep for this quiet time of the year. This price already included a £96 discount on their normal fare.
I was so disappointed, in fact, that I felt compelled to Tweet about it. Twitter is not my usual vehicle for grumbling about things, but here’s what I tweeted…
Even with club discount still paying £260 (2 adults + car return + cabin 1 way) Portsmouth-Caen in Jan. Expensive non Brittany Ferries?
Job done, I thought. Got it off my chest and perhaps gave my Twitter community the opportunity to tell me where I can get a better deal next time.
To my surprise, and to their credit, Brittany Ferries started following me on Twitter AND sent me a personal reply. Here it is…
@MartinJarvis Hello Martin, are your timings flexible? Generally afternoon sailings are cheaper southbound, and morning sailings northbound.
Now, I already had a vague idea that the price structure worked out like this, and we generally do try to get the best combination of price and convenience when booking, so the content of this reply didn’t really give me anything. However, I was struck, and impressed, by the fact that Brittany Ferries are taking social media seriously enough to be keeping an eye on what is said about them on the web and that they respond quickly and effectively to head problems off before they cause real damage.
This is a very important lesson to all of us who run businesses…
“It does matter what people say about us on the web. If they say good things about us we should be passing that on to as many of our followers as possible. If they say bad things about us we should be trying to address those issues quickly and effectively, nipping them in the bud so that the bad news stops right there. Do you really want your customer’s disappointment with your product to go viral and spread to thousands of others? What damage could that do to your brand?”
Tackled correctly, bad news can be turned into something positive for your business – but you need to act quickly, you need to be honest, and you need to offer good information and advice (and an apology if necessary). Most important, though, is that you need to be aware of the things that are being said about you and your business. There are a few tools around that proactively alert you when your key phrases are mentioned (try Google Alerts, for example), or for Twitter, you could simply search for your terms on a regular basis and deal with any that require it.
So, well done Brittany Ferries for being on top of this… although I really would like to pay a bit less for my regular crossings.
Let us have your own views on the use of Social Media for monitoring what your (potential) customers are saying, and whether you have been affected – positively or otherwise, by something said about you.
I actually did a #ff (Follow Friday) for Brittany Ferries last week, linking to my blog post in the process. They [Brittany Ferries] replied to me again, thanking me for the #ff and for the blog post!