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MEDIA & MARKETING | Contributed Content, Singapore
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Jacky Tan

4 ways SMRT can improve on its social media PR

BY JACKY TAN

Most of us commute to work, school, and places via public transport every day, so it is important for me as a consumer to feedback on how we can improve our current public transport service.

I am not an engineer, so I cannot comment much on the technical aspects of the train system. However, I wish to comment on how SMRT can improve on its social media public relations so as to further enhance the customer service experience.

Here are the 4 ways.

Listen

There is difference between hearing and listening. Hearing is the process of perceiving sound produced by any sound source in the environment while listening is the process of deriving meaning from organised sounds. Listening requires more concentration and listening leads to learning. [Source: Google Search]

What it means is that there is a meaning behind every customer's feedback when they commented via social media. Not all the customers who are unhappy about your company will leave a feedback on your company's social media.

Most unhappy customers will usually give up on the brand without even telling the company. While those customers that give genuine feedback, they are actually giving the company another chance to be better in the future.

Hence we cannot ignore customer's comments on social media, instead we have to listen to them and find out how we can make them happy again. On another note, it will be good to change the existing "Here to Hear" tab on SMRT's facebook page to "Here to Listen" instead. Just a suggestion.

Interact

Social media is a very effective word of mouth marketing and communication tool today. It is something that, if managed well, can greatly contribute positively to the company's branding image and reputation.

To manage social media well, companies need to use it as a two-way communication tool with their direct consumers. There must be interaction between the brand and the customer. Many companies use social media as a one way communication tool to pass their media messages. However, social media does not work this way.

If we want to fully optimise social media to our advantage, we need to interact with our customers. Hence, it is important to have a social media team to answer every single customer's comment on social media in a prompt, friendly, and professional manner.

Moreover some companies failed to communicate well with their customers on social media where they simply 'copied and pasted' the same reply to every customer's feedback. Such "standard" reply to the customer's feedback shows the lack of personal touch and empathy from the company. The customers can feel it too.

Follow Up

Replying to the customers' feedback is half of the game. Following up with the customer's feedback till a solution or a consensus is made is the other half of the game. Following up with customers is like making promises to them.

Following up with customers will give companies a chance to regain trust and confidence from the customers again. It can also be small promises such as promising the customers that your company will call them back by the next day.

Another important thing to take note, especially on social media PR, is that the company has to follow up with the public as well. What it means is that, if the company is not able to follow up with Customer A's feedback, then the public that witnessed this, may perceive that this company does not have the responsibility to follow up with Customer A.

Hence every "publicised" follow up with any customer's feedback not only will make the particular customer feel that the company is concerned about his or her feedback, it will also give the public a good impression on the social media PR attitude of the company.  

Empathize

The best way to understand our customer is to empathize with them.

Put yourself in their shoes. We have to ask ourselves that if I were the customer, how would I feel if I have an unhappy experience with the company?

The recent incidents of train delays affected the commuters in various walks of lives. Students were late for exams. Working adults were late for work and appointments. And what if a commuter has a plane to catch and he or she missed the plane due to the delay?

By putting ourselves in our consumers' shoes, we can understand them and communicate with them better. And by understanding them better, things will come out for the better naturally. Empathy is therefore an important aspect any company needs to adopt when dealing with customers on social media.

"L"isten + "I"nteract + "F"ollow Up + "E"mpathize = LIFE

A renowned marketing writer once said, in today's consumer age of social media, it is no longer B2C (Business to Consumer) or B2B (Business to Business); it is now H2H (Human to Human). Social media, in short, is about how we can handle and manage people's relationship and expectation of our brands.

On another note, as a commuter and customer of SMRT, I would like to commend on the hardworking frontline staff especially the uncles and the aunties who stood long hours to ensure the commuters have moved safely into the train cabins. These frontline staff are your unseen heroes.

To end, I would like to share an interesting quote from Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon.com.

"If you do build a great experience, customers tell each other about that. Word of mouth is very powerful."

The views expressed in this column are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect this publication's view, and this article is not edited by Singapore Business Review. The author was not remunerated for this article.

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Jacky Tan

Jacky Tan

Jacky Tan is a professional marketing writer, blogger, speaker, and the author of 'Social M - How Your Startup Can Take On the Big Boys'. Jacky leads the boutique marketing communications and branding agency, Jack and Chaz Pte Ltd. He specialises in the creation of successful branding, content marketing and pr strategies for companies of any size.

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