Just last week I attended Social Media Marketing World in San Diego. So, what does a social media marketing conference have to do with customer service? Plenty!
It’s been said that customer service is the new marketing. If that is true – and it is – then social media customer service is the updated version of that. And, if you’ve been following my work, you’ve heard me talk or write about how social media is a viable way to deliver amazing customer service. Regardless of the customer interacting with you in person, on your website or through social media channels, the experience should be one that brings the customer back, and more important, gets the customer to talk about you to their friends and colleagues. Customer service done right is one of your best marketing strategies. And, social customer service allows you to take the interactions with your customers to an even higher level.
This is the second year in a row that Social Media Marketing World has had a social customer care track. A special thank you to Dan Gingiss and the SMMW team for putting this together. It is proof that social customer care is something that companies cannot ignore. Social media channels like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc. have gone from being an alternative channel for customer service to a primary channel. So, if you aren’t already tied into social media customer service, the time to do it is… Now! Here are a few simple strategies that any and all companies can do to stay “social” with their customer service.
- Start by having an account on social channels. I’m amazed at how many companies choose not to participate on social media. This is no longer an option! And, when I’m asked which channel a company should participate on, I respond with a simple answer: “Wherever your customers are.”
- Monitor those channels to catch any mentions of your company. This can be done with various software programs, some that are even free. You want to know whenever anyone says anything about your company – in real time.
- Respond to all mentions, not just complaints. One of the worst things a company can do is ignore comments – especially complaints. Social media is a public forum. If someone leaves a comment, there will be others watching for a response. While this is especially important if a customer complains, all comments should be acknowledged and responded to.
- Respond quickly. If you are going to respond to every post, as you should, do it correctly. That means respond quickly. Don’t wait for hours, or even days. Respond within an hour – ideally within a few minutes.
- Be real. When responding to comments and complaints, make it personal. In other words, don’t use copied and pasted responses. People are watching and you’ll get caught with canned, impersonal responses that make it look like you don’t truly care about your customers.
- Proactively engage with your community. This means you don’t wait for a customer to post something about your company. Your brand needs to push out content to customers that is interesting and relevant. This is not blatant promotion, like a discount coupon. Just provide great information that adds value to your customers. Some call this marketing, and I won’t disagree. But, then I go back to what I mentioned in the beginning, customer service is marketing!