Social media knowhow with great customer service

customer serviceSome business owners are put off by social media, because of the potential for customer service disasters. However, used effectively, it can really help to promote your business and to show that you take your customers seriously. The key to using social media effectively is to have a strategy. Listen to what your customers are telling you, take appropriate action and use the information to make your business better.

Here are eight steps to making your social media strategy a customer service success:

1. Have a plan

Decide how you want to use sites like Facebook and Twitter to build and maintain relationships with your customers

2. Use the right tools
There are plenty of tools out there to help you improve and manage your social media usage. Hootsuite, Social Mention and PinAlert are just a few but there are many others too. Different tools will work well for different businesses, so make sure you do your research

3. Prepare for crisis scenarios
While you will hopefully be able to keep these to a minimum, there may come a time when a disgruntled customer complains on social media for all to see. Decide ahead of time how you will deal with this if such an issue arises, including which staff member will respond and in what way.
4. Provide extensive training
Knowing how to post is not enough. Make sure that any staff members handling customer service on social media (or elsewhere) understand your brand’s ethos and values. Explain how negative comments can affect your business and give them suggested responses to potential comments. Test their responses to the examples you give and provide detailed feedback so that they feel confident to act quickly when a situation arises.
5. Listen carefully
Don’t assume you know what the issue is. Ask the customer to explain and take time to address each of their concerns. You can do this via social media if appropriate. Certainlu the initial response showing that your’re dealing with an issue should be publicly visible, but it may well be better to take the conversation offline via email or phone if they agree to do so. Responding via social media won’t remove any negative comments but will show the customer in question, and other customers who read the post, that you care about each of them and are committed to putting mistakes right.
6. Invite feedback
This might sound like a recipe for disaster, but customers appreciate being given the opportunity to voice their opinions and will value any changes that come about in response.
7. Use customer insights wisely
Where appropriate, pass feedback on to the relevant departments. This is particularly important if you receive the same kind of feedback multiple times
8. Manage customer expectation
Sometimes customers feel that they have been led to expect something that is not delivered. This may be enough for them to jump ship to a competitor, which is never a good outcome. Trust is an important element here, as customers who feel they have been duped in some way are the most likely to look elsewhere

While dealing with customer service can sometimes be tricky on social media, planning ahead is the key to success. Make your customers feel valued by responding quickly to any negative comments in a positive and proactive way.

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