Jameson Brown of SocialMediaToday.com put it best when he called social media the “game changer” for the customer service industry. Instead of cold-calling and remaining in a stuffy call center, social media outlets like Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram have put a mega phone into the consumers hands. While they are tweeting or posting about their joys and woes about the products they use day to day, customer service reps are listening and (hopefully) responding.
One key factor that makes social media work for customers is the connection between the companies’ agent and the consumer. Without that connection, big name companies are using the networking opportunity to leverage their marketing position, which is only a fragment of what social media can do for a company’s growth. Here are a few ways that you can use social media and various networking tactics to broaden your scope of connection with your customer base.
Think of the social media networks, like Twitter and Facebook, as platforms that allow you to make special announcements regarding new products, deals for your fans and followers, cancelations and service interruptions. Posting pics is great too, but customers really want to relate and interact with their company through these networks. After all, it is a “social” network, which implies that the customer is communicating a message to the company and the company lets the customer know that he or she is heard.
The Power of Twitter Connections
One great example of a social media/customer service connection happened when I bought a 2010 Ford Fusion. I was so excited, because it was my first hybrid car, that I immediately posted the pic on my Twitter page. About an hour later, I noticed that the Chapman Ford AZ dealership, that had sold me the car, had replied to my tweet saying that they were so glad that I was enjoying my new car. This connection made me smile and definitely made a difference.
In a recent study, conducted by Software Advice, four of their employees took part in an experiment where they mentioned in their tweets several large corporations, in various industries. For four weeks these participants tweeted complaints, compliments and requests for help, using Twitter handles (@nameofcompany) and the name of the company, so that the company could know who was mentioning them and respond. The results to the study were pretty alarming and showed how little customer service agents are using this extremely useful tool. Brands like Starbucks, Walmart and Apple were surprisingly non-responders, and their competitors took their sweet time and hadn’t even responded to half of the participants. If a customer is complaining about their awful experience at Starbucks and telling all of her friends to boycott the cafe on Twitter and Facebook and Starbucks doesn’t respond, they didn’t just lose one unhappy customer, it’s possible that they lost hundreds thousands if the customer was a celebrity with fans.
Brown’s article in SocialMediaToday.com was singing the praises of a company that knows how to do customer service on social media networks the right way: Zappos.com. They have a customer service Twitter account that responds to questions in a timely and efficient manner. When a customer tweets about their Zappos shoes, they know that they will get feedback, even if it is just a smile emoticon and a quick “thanks!” Forbes’ Jenna Goudreau says that Southwest Airlines has been known to update flight delays on their Twitter page.
Most importantly, don’t let your Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook or even blog lay dormant. Content is king, even if it’s a gallery of images that is regularly updated or brief updates on products and services, staying current and present lets your fans know that you are present and available to field requests, questions, or praise at any time day or night.
A real go-getter, Yasmin encourages others around her to shoot for the stars and be the best in the world of business. She loves sharing tips on how to build your own start up and make it into a success.