Is your brand blog closing the door on customer comments?

If your business happens to be in retail or other sectors with high levels of consumer contact, the risk of becoming a magnet for disgruntled customers (not to mention the universal problem of spammers) can be enough to deter you from enabling comments.

That instinct is understandable – no one wants their marketing team kept awake at night by the prospect of their blog or indeed social channels becoming a customer services rage-fest – but, given that most brand blogs are set up with customer  interaction and positive brand reinforcement in mind, this seems like a wasted opportunity.

Why go to all the trouble of creating great, engaging, exclusive content that invites people to your site and gets them (hopefully) pumped with excitement about your latest brand insights – only to close the door on them when they’re about to start talking? Ok, you can always direct them to your Facebook page or suggest they email their thoughts but that, surely, goes against all the rules of making online interaction as simple as possible for your target audience.

Not-quite open door policy: is your blog giving customers mixed messages?

It was with these testing thoughts in mind that we attended our first event in Social Media Week 2012 – Blogging BootCamp for Business at Citigate PR with Phil Szomzor and Nigel Lewis – a real barnstormer with some great insights from two experts in the field (although Nigel was humble enough to tell us post-event that he still thinks of himself as something of a beginner… his track record says otherwise!). But more on those insights another time….

Phil, who blogs and tweets as the Red Rocket, offered some simple and relatively low-maintenance moderation tactics that can help brands ensure they keep the comments flowing without getting bogged down by customer service issues. In summary:

1. Set up an auto-responder email that is instantly pinged out to everyone who comments, reassuring them that their comment will be review and posted (or not!) within 24 hours.

2. The disclaimer should make it clear that the blog moderator will only publish comments that are relevant to the blog post – ‘for anything relating to customer services please call/email etc..’

3. Ensure this process is joined up with CRM and a good ticketing policy to ensure that customer service issues really are flagged and dealt with according to company policy.

Furthermore, if a brand really wants to wear its heart on its sleeve and show customers how open it is, then recurrent customer service problems should be confronted on the blog by a senior representative – think of it as a great opportunity to show your community that you’re aware of issues and explain what actions you’re taking to address their concerns.

For more on the value of business blog comments – and how to beat the spammers, read this – and please let us know your views on the comment conundrum. By commenting below, of course. We’re all ears!

Author: George Wright Theohari

Branding | Content | Design. We develop and deliver beautifully effective communications across print, digital and film.

One thought

  1. Thanks for writing up the event – I’m glad you enjoyed it.

    I think, as a rule of thumb, most companies don’t necessarily have to set up the processes above for their blog. But some consumer facing companies that have ongoing customer service issues may find that implementing a couple of steps to ensure that their complaint is channeled through to the right place, is a useful exercise.

    Apart from a few exceptions, when there’s a problem people usually just want it sorted writing on a company’s blog is often a easy thing to do when, for example, they’ve been left dangling on the end of the customer service line for half an hour.

    Whatever people’s views, one thing is generally agreed in the social media sphere – you can’t separate customer service and marketing any more.

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