Any successful business owner knows the root of success lies in providing excellent customer service. But, with the onset of social and the fact almost 75 percent of Internet users in the U.S. are on social platforms, the path to customer service has changed. More than ever, customers expect brands large and small to provide real-time responses across a variety of social networks.
Customers are no longer willing to play the phone game, either waiting for a return phone call or getting stuck in an endless loop of hold music and automated voices telling them how important their business is to you. We live in a real-time world, and customers know it. They set the stage for where these conversations exist.
Did you know customers experiencing positive social customer care are four times more likely to endorse you than those who don’t? One negative customer message in public can wipe out the effect of up to five positive ones. When you’re intelligently engaging with your customers online, you’re doing more than just providing them service and support — you are also building brand advocates.
Go forth and build your brand army!
A recent study shows very few small businesses are taking advantage of a tremendous opportunity to stand out as customer-centric by fielding customer service requests on social platforms. While many brands are using platforms like Facebook® and Twitter® to market, share information and connect, less than 20 percent are leveraging the social landscape to handle customer service and support issues.
Whether you’re monitoring the conversation or not, consumers are asking questions, voicing complaints, and making suggestions to you and your brand. Are you contributing to the conversation?
Use social monitoring and management tools
Although consumers often expect immediate response times, that isn’t always realistic when you’re a small business owner. Do you really have time to spend monitoring the various social platforms, your website, emails and the World Wide Web while you’re busy doing what you do so well? This is where having a well-thought-out plan for customer service and brand reputation management comes into place.
Identify tools to help you monitor and manage the conversation. There are so many to choose from that I often see people get overwhelmed at the options. Here are a few recommendations:
Social Mention is a social media search platform that aggregates user-generated content from across the web into a single stream of information. What this means to you is you can pop in the name of your brand, keywords related to your brand or even your competitors, and see what people are saying across multiple locations on the Internet, including social channels. You can create social mention alerts, gauge sentiment and so much more with this FREE tool.
Everyone should have Google Alerts™ set up to monitor mentions of their brand, competitors and related industry news. If your name is unique enough, I suggest setting up an alert for that, too! This easy-to-use tool notifies you via email about any mentions related to the keywords you have added. You set the frequency of emails. And it’s free.
While Hootsuite™ is mainly known as a social media management tool, a lot of people overlook the power of using it to monitor conversations and respond to customer service questions. The Hootsuite team has turbocharged the software by adding features like tags, notes and archives. Imagine being able to keep track of customers who have reached out to you before, what their challenge was, and how you helped them resolve it.
I cannot overemphasize the importance of ongoing education for you and your staff. The world of social moves at a rapid pace, and staying on top of all the changes is not an easy task. You don’t need to worry about every tiny change, but the more you understand how your customers and prospects are using social, the better you can provide for them and turn them into lifelong happy customers who will shout your accolades from the rooftops. Two books I wholeheartedly suggest are Youtility by Jay Baer and The Thank You Economy by Gary Vaynerchuk.
While it might seem overwhelming at first, keep in mind that providing support and service to your customers online is no different than helping them over the phone or if they were standing right in front of you. Social is just another frontier continuing to provide you the opportunity to reach more people than ever before!
Want to learn more? Join our Google+ Hangout™ at 10 a.m. (PST) October 2 to discuss actionable tactics, ask questions, and get more firepower to turn your customers into raving fans.