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Member Article

Customer Service through Social Media

Using social media for customer service is a rapidly growing phenomenon. The advantages to be gained from engaging your customers using social media channels are manyfold. When done well social customer care can be a powerful tool in a businesses arsenal.

Social customer care is fundamentally changing the face of customer service as a whole and can provide you with instant feedback on issues that your consumers are having. This gives you a platform to respond in a positive way in real time. By not engaging your customers in this way, you could be missing out on a wealth of great PR opportunities. Moreover, social media can also be much cheaper than more traditional forms of customer service such as call centres.

Getting it wrong, however, can lead to negative perception of your brand . Customers have more ways than ever to tell everyone they know about any problems & bad customer service (as well as several thousand people they’ve never met). Sadly, today, too many businesses are getting it wrong.

The first step is to choose which social channels to use to engage with your consumers. Find out where your customers are online and try to be where they are. Search for brand mentions on popular social sites and find out where your customer base socialize on the web.

For most, Facebook and Twitter will be the primary focus but you may find that your customers also frequent Google +, Linkedin, Pinterest, Instagram or other social sites. Once you have chosen which social channels to use it is a case of monitoring them and interacting with your audience.

When your social channels are set up you need to start listening to what your customers are saying, get to know them better and identify influencers, advocates and detractors of your brand. This is the second step to good customer service using social media, and it is perhaps one of the most crucial, as this is where you’ll really have to start interacting with your customers.

This is also one of the most difficult areas of customer service on social media. You may be tempted to “jump in” on a conversation to where your business is being written about, whether to try and make a sale or to make amends for a bad bit of customer service.

Whilst doing this can seem like you’re being “proactive”, it can actually be worse than doing nothing at all in many cases - customers often feel as if they’re being spied upon if you try and help where help is not asked for, or feel as though you’re being “defensive”. Therefore, learning how to time your engagement with customers is every bit as important as giving the right and appropriate response to a problem.

This brings us to our third and final point: internet etiquette is of utmost importance. Of course, the social rules of the internet can be difficult to learn (you can’t usually see who you’re talking to, after all), but they can be learnt. As a basic guide, here are some essential rules:

Answer all direct questions and complaints made to your company

If a customer is angry and doesn’t have a specific complaint, be civil - do not argue, but try to direct them to an appropriate channel where their problems and frustrations can be solved constructively

Unfortunately, there are trolls - some will try and get a bad reaction out of you or try to damage your brand. Ignore such people, or take action if they start bothering other, genuine customers

Don’t be put off by negative comments - do not delete justifiable criticism by hiding or deleting comments. This makes you seem as if you’re running away from problems.

Don’t overwhelm your customers with information - it sounds like a sales pitch and there’s nothing more annoying than unwanted marketing

There has been lots of well known brands that have had some pretty spectacular social media fails when dealing with customers online, a couple of my favourites are in this recent article and infographic. Don’t let yourself go down that route, as especially for smaller enterprises it can be difficult to recover a reputation once lost.

There are some great in depth guides on how to get your social positioning just right out there. I like this one from sales force:

So whether you are a small business or a multi national corporation social seems to be the way forward when dealing with your customers.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Render Positive .

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