Many firms have turned to social media to increase the reach and effectiveness of their customer-service strategies. If implemented properly, with a solid strategy, this can be a cost-efficient and easily accessible tool to reach a larger number of people and solve problems in a timely manner.
But there’s an additional source of reach and power on social media that many firms aren’t aware of, so it largely remains untapped: personal brands.
Personal Brands vs. Corporate Brands
First, understand the advantages a personal brand can have over a corporate brand. Much like corporate brands, personal brands are an accumulation of identity standards, but they’re restricted to one person, such as a salesperson or CEO, instead of identifying an otherwise faceless company.
Personal brands have a number of advantages:
They’re more authoritative. Personal brands tend enjoy more authority than the companies they’re associated with. For example, which would you trust more: a corporate brand that tells you how to invest money and build wealth, or a person who’s actually done it? Most people are inclined to go with the latter.
They’re more flexible. Personal brands also have a greater degree of flexibility when it comes to engaging with customers on an individual level. They can deviate from some corporate brand standards without abandoning the operation altogether; they can also be more conversational and friendly in tone without sacrificing professionalism.
They’re more trusted. People have largely become inherently distrustful of corporate brands, in part due to decades of misleading advertising and corporate greed affecting consumer decisions. Now people are far more likely to take recommendations from or make connections with other people rather than a faceless corporation.
They can leverage any platform and build connections. Some platforms, such as LinkedIn, naturally cater toward individual users more than company pages. For example, individual LinkedIn users can leverage the power of Groups, while corporate brands can’t.
How to Use Personal Brands in Customer Service
You’ve seen why personal brands can be more powerful than corporate brands, but how does this apply in a customer-service context? Obviously, you don’t want any one individual in your company to become bombarded with an influx of customer service requests, so you’ll still want to use your corporate brand(s) as a kind of “hub” of operation.
From there, you can use personal brands to complement and improve your overall strategy:
Give some users a more personal experience. Use personal brands to monitor public interactions with customers, and jump in to give some users a more personal experience. A personal touch goes a long way in customer service satisfaction. For example, let’s say an irate customer has complained about the performance of your product. Rather than responding as the corporate brand, one of your salespeople might step in personally to apologize for the inconvenience and offer to make things right. This can make a big impression.
Escalate complex problems to personal accounts. This is a strategy for in-bound problems and questions that are especially complicated, or require some significant interaction before they can be solved. In these scenarios, you can use your “hub” customer service account to forward problems to individuals. Customers will feel like they’re getting special treatment, which in itself can make them more satisfied, and you’ll free up your main channel to deal with more first-line requests (which increasingly critical as your strategy grows).
Share and distribute help content. Finally, don’t forget about personal brands as a tool to improve your content-marketing campaign. You should have a resource library of help documents and other features that allow customers to help themselves. By using personal brands to distribute this content, you’ll make it more visible and more trustworthy, and you’ll solve more customer problems before they even become a problem in the first place.
With these strategies and at least a handful of personal brands from within your organization, you can instantly take your social media customer service strategy to a new level. You’ll find your customers more engaged, more informed, and ultimately more satisfied when they work with you on a given issue … especially if it is distressing.