Customer service, word of mouth, referrals and reputation are important factors for any business especially during a time of growth or change. They can all affect a business both positively and negatively. The global connection between people, consumers and businesses is stronger than ever and has been amplified by the ease of use and reach of social media. The ability to vent frustration about service or the lack thereof is easy and the potential for it to reach a mass audience quickly is pretty scary if you run a business. We’ve seen Facebook posts, Twitter posts & videos about a customer’s interaction with a business go viral and make it onto mainstream media the same day.

Managing customer expectations through social media can be a difficult task. It’s even harder if you run a small business where it’s likely that you juggle multiple hats on a daily basis. If you’re a large organisation it can be difficult to manage the sheer volume of customer interaction on social media. Why is it important to manage now and into the future?  It’s pretty simple. Customers like interacting with brands and businesses on social media for several reasons:

  • They can get instant feedback on questions and issues
  • They can publicly air frustrations, which puts more onus on the business to respond
  • They can do it at any time and from anywhere

Customer service and interaction through social channels won’t be going anywhere and over the long term so you should be looking at ways your business can leverage social media for not only promotion, but for creating a positive experience for your customer base, which can lead to greater retention, more referrals and an increase in word of mouth sales.

Here are some simple ways you can manage your customers and improve your service via social media if you run a small business. If you are a small to medium business the biggest issue you typically have is time. Running and managing social media accounts can be time consuming. If you manage customer queries, complaints and questions through your social channels you may find it difficult to keep up with the demand. Here’s how you can overcome these challenges:

  • Prepare standardised responses to commonly asked questions. If you have a recurring questions prepare simple responses that you can copy and paste. You can also build a running FAQ’s page on your website where you can advise customers to view when they ask a question you already have an answer to. This not only improves your response time but also drives traffic to your website.
  • Acknowledge and respond later. On social media people are after instant communication especially when they have an urgent problem. Prepare a standard acknowledgement that you have seen the question and then respond later an appropriate time. If you at least acknowledging the person it will make them feel more at ease rather than waiting for you to prepare a full response.
  • Use a social media monitoring tool or link your social media accounts to a scheduling platform like Hootsuite. Here you can monitor mentions on Twitter or posts on Facebook and you can easily respond from the same screen. This reduces time associated with managing multiple social accounts & customer enquiries
  • Finally, as a last resort you can hand your social media management and monitoring over to a dedicated team, agency or an employee within your business.

If you run a larger organisation with multiple teams, managers and individual employee’s things can get a bit messier. Social customer service, interaction and responses should all be part of your overall social media strategy. Like other core parts of the organisation you should be focused on getting all the different components of your social media plan working together as one.

The challenge from a social media perspective is how you get all your employees that are behind the scenes of your social accounts working as one and more importantly appearing to the public as one. It gets even more complex when you have to handle customer complaints and enquiries. The most critical things an organisation needs include:

  • A clearly defined persona, tone and voice – this should be communicated across all social channels and should be a reflection of the organisation & not the individual person who is managing the account at a specific time. When people changeover there should be no change to your social interaction
  • A critical plan and response strategy. This should be one that deals with the worst possible scenario for your business. How will you communicate with your customers and what processes will you follow? There is no black and white on social media interaction and service, however you should stay within certain parameters and being prepared is important.
  • Consider separate social accounts for your support teams. Having a separate Twitter account to handle support requests can take the load off your main social account and ensure that it doesn’t get clogged up with irrelevant support information for your other customers.

Remember that all the people in your social media community aren’t customers yet. They may be people who are considering using your services in the future and the way you respond, interact and communicate on social media may be a critical factor in determining if they use your products or services.

Digital technology and social media has impacted the way we do business and it has also impacted the expectations of your customers. The question is whether you will adapt and succeed or get left behind.

Related Tags: Social Media Marketing Newcastle | Digital Marketing Agency Newcastle