Many business owners don’t believe that social media can help them grow their businesses. However, even if you’re not convinced that social media can bring you sales, you still may need to use sites such as Facebook, Twitter or Yelp to provide customer service and support. This is because an increasing number of customers are using their social networks to complain about the companies that they have done business with.
A recent blog post by Desk.com revealed that “less than 5% of dissatisfied customers voice their complaints to companies directly and instead prefer to forgo any chances of a resolution and simply vent their frustrations to friends and acquaintances.” Social media gives customers the ideal outlet to vent – as it lets them instantly complain to a large audience.
If you don’t know how to use social media for customer service, your customers may feel that you are ignoring their complaints, which can lead to damaging word-of-mouth and a loss of sales.
Here are three ways that you can gain control of your online reputation and use social media to improve your customer service:
- Be active on social media: The first thing you must do is learn which social networks your customers are using. For example, are they connecting with friends on Facebook, Tweeting about everything that matters or reviewing local businesses on Yelp? Once you know how your customers prefer to communicate, you can build a presence on all of their top social networks. However, simply creating a profile on each site isn’t enough. You need to actively participate in these social networks by sharing valuable content and responding to questions, comments and complaints. For many social networks, “active participation” means that you’ll need to check in daily.
- Monitor what people are saying about you: Once you have your social profiles in place, you’ll need to monitor what your communities are saying. There are a number of free and low-cost social media monitoring tools that allow you to quickly see what is happening across all of your social networks. You can also set up Google Alerts for your company name to receive automatic emails whenever someone mentions you online.
- Respond quickly: Many customers voice complaints through social media because they think that they will get a faster response than if they email your company or call you. Since speed is expected on social media, you should quickly respond to all questions and complaints – even if this means monitoring your accounts outside of normal business hours.
Stay in touch with your customers and send them offers, updates, and valuable content. With pbSmartTM Connections, you can easily build, track, and deploy email marketing campaigns that help grow customer loyalty.
If you don’t have the time to keep up with a bunch of social networks, you may want to hire a community manager to monitor your brand online. Your community manager can be an intern, college student, social media consultant or one of your social-savvy employees. This person can not only respond to complaints online, but also help you develop a plan to grow your business through social media.
What about you? Do you feel that social media is an important customer service tool? Feel free to share your comments and questions below.
Be sure to check out “Customer Retention: Keep Customers by Growing Relationships Online” for more information on building and maintaining customer relationships online.