Providing Customer Service in Social Media
Guest post from @JoeManna from @Infusionsoft
Providing Customer Service in Social Media is (Not) Easy
One of the qualities about social media is the advent of providing great customer service in it. However, it can quickly grow to be more complex than you think. For some organizations, it can become an untamed beast – and for others, it’s the missing puzzle piece in your customer experience. I want to share a few notable tips for you if you plan to provide customer service through social media.
First, let’s consider the landscape so you know where and how social media might impact your business:
- Twitter and Facebook Status – Customers can quickly share opinions on your business to their friends. Because friends are supportive, they often take their opinions at face-value and generally hold a critical stance on any business not providing great service, but it goes both ways if they make an endorsement.
- Blogs – Blogs are a great way for customers to share a story, pictures, video and solicit commentary from others. Blogs have a great way of being quickly indexed in search engines and can get picked up by prospects and existing customers. Businesses with updated blogs are in a better position to address any criticism and praise they earn and keep everyone updated.
- YouTube – As the leading video sharing site, YouTube makes it incredibly easy for anyone to record video and get their story or voice out there. This can be just as beneficial as it can be deadly for a business. It’s great platform for a business to share insights not normally known about them such as their employees, their culture, history and other quirky “cool” things.
- Yelp – One of the most pervasive and passionate business review communities, Yelp, provides savvy consumers peer-to-peer insights about a business. It’s acceptable that a critical review happens once in a while after all, not everyone will love a business all the time. It’s important businesses keep a cool head when handling criticism and comply to the community’s policies.
Now, there’s more social media services out there to talk about, but these are the big four that a business should closely look at.
Providing customer service through social media is a good way to reach consumers where they can’t normally be helped through email or in-person. Likewise, it’s important to be considerate that not everyone is accustomed to a business actually caring and providing help. Ironic how that works, but slowly more people are adapting to this as an expectation.
To provide great service you have to make sure you’re providing great service at the core of your business. This means greeting people, taking the time to know them and being flexible in your policies for customers who raise grievances. In many cases, this is the easiest and you’ll earn helpful social media plugs from your customers and more business will trickle in as a result.
Assuming you do that – then it’s time to be social online and connect with your customers. Establish your brand on Twitter and build a Facebook Page. Provide helpful information (not just promos) on a regular and consistent basis. Join the conversation with customers. Advertise to your existing customers to follow your on Twitter or Like you on Facebook. You’d be surprised how many will because they are interested in your business.
If someone has a question, answer it. I don’t believe any business is too good to answer a question from their customers or prospects. If it’s their phone number, publish it. If it’s directions, provide it. If it’s about products or services, describe them. Providing a specific, tailored response is key to earning the respect and gratitude from others.
Once you get into the swing of things, it’s advantageous to use a social media monitoring application. Services like TweetDeck, Hootsuite and Google Alerts are helpful and free to use and can be very helpful for the business owner to get familiar with.
A caveat of customer service in social media: It knows no 9-to-5. Customers may want help at all hours of the day or night and they want it now. It doesn’t mean you need to slave away after hours – it means being responsive and letting people know you’re aware of their question and keeping them on the top of your “to-do” list for the next work day so they receive prompt and courteous service.
When you respond to customers, be helpful, but don’t be afraid to have a backbone. This takes a little while to grow into that comfort zone, but once you do, it’s empowering. If someone slams your company unjustly, you’d be surprised how quick your loyal customers are watching and will jump to your defense. This is a great benefit in providing customer service through social media.
The name of the game is consistency. Be consistent with great service in your business as well as online. Be consistent with checking and reading the insights from your customers and prospects. Be consistent with providing valuable content for your audience.
I hope this shares some insights on providing exceptional customer service through social media. There are many different directions you can take as a business and questions that you may have.
If you have a question about providing customer service through social media – drop it in the comments. I’ll be happy to help give you the pointers you need to be successful.
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