While you might be doing an outstanding job of utilizing social platforms for “traditional” marketing messages, how well are you taking advantage of it for delivering outstanding customer service?
Far too many businesses are missing the mark today — or not even aiming at all. And, in so doing, they are leaving themselves vulnerable to serious reputation management issues.
When someone searches for a business to meet a current need, one of the first ways they get started is with a search in an online directory, search engine or directly on a social media platform. All of which quickly bring user comments (both negative and positive) into view from the get-go.
Customer Service is Marketing
Anything that involves communicating with or to your customers on behalf of your company is marketing. Anything that allows people to form opinions about your company is marketing. Customer service does all of that and more.
Do’s and Don’ts of Social Customer Service
Social customer service is fast becoming one of the most relevant and beneficial means by which you can control your brand, your online reputation and your relationship with customers. However, there is a fine line between leveraging the power of a public venue to showcase your customer service prowess and using it to hash out a customer complaint.
The former can leapfrog you to improved customer opinions, reviews and even search results. Yes, I said search results. Online reviews are one component considered by Hummingbird, directly affecting your SERP placement. As for the latter, it can hurt you far more than the former can help you.
The following are some important things to keep in mind when planning your social customer service strategy:
1. Respond Promptly
Social media exemplifies instant gratification and any delay in your response to a question or comment — whether good or bad — leaves a negative impression in peoples’ minds. Every comment should be responded to within one hour, at least during business hours. The larger the company, the more important it becomes to offer 24/7 social customer service.
2. Avoid Egocentric Time Zone Calculations
If you serve customers in multiple time zones, you must also provide service to those customers during their times of need, not just during your business hours. A customer in Los Angeles who contacts a North Carolina-based company at 2:30 p.m. (PST) should not be forced to wait until the next morning for a response.
3. Get Involved
Set up alerts to let you know when posts are made to or about your company, and then get involved in those conversations. It matters not whether posts are positive or negative as every single one offers you the chance to control your online brand reputation—or to let others do so for you.
4. Give Up Being “Right”
When you make a point of being “right” or pointing out a customer’s error, especially in a highly visible setting, you will lose. There is always a polite way to give information, and you must find it.
5. Show Off Online…But Know When to Go Offline
When you can answer a question, provide information or solve a problem for someone efficiently online, you not only make that customer happy, you also “show off” in a good way to thousands more.
Sometimes, nothing you do or say can make someone happy and these are the times when you need to take things offline. It does not matter how crazy or wrong the customer is. What matters is that others do not want or need to hear it.
Benefiting from social customer service requires a conscious effort on your part to put the customer first. Communicating on time, completely and with a smile, even in online messages, is a must. Do this and you will be rewarded.
Individually, customer service and social media are powerful components of your marketing toolkit. Put together, they allow you to promote your products and services, cultivate customer relationships, control your brand and boost your SEO.
Do you have any other suggestions or experiences? Share them in the comments.