When the Internet started gaining on small businesses, entrepreneurs didn't pay much attention to it. After a few years, though, they couldn't ignore it any longer. Today, customers of all shapes and sizes – newbies and regulars, happy-go-lucky and impossible-to-please – log on to weigh in. Today, customer experience – the good, the bad and the very ugly – is online for the world to see. How do businesses handle this overabundance of opinion? They make social media work for them and use it as a customer service tool.
1. Hashtags are everywhere now – on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest – which means that those social media platforms are searchable. If you use a hashtag (#) followed by your business name in the “Search” field, you can find out what people are saying about your company.
2. By tuning in to what your audience is talking about, you can take the pulse of your business. Customers may contact you directly if they have a terrible experience or if something goes wrong with an order. Smaller issues may not be brought to your attention. Social media can tune you in to things like discontinued products that are in demand, or and expanded business hours that would result in more sales.
3. Social media is informal. Use this to your advantage – by being less formal than normal, you may be able to connect with people on a personal level.
4. If used correctly, social media gives businesses the opportunity to quickly respond to complaints. The point behind providing customer service across various social media channels is to connect with your customers as immediately as possible.
5. Where are all those positive comments? Customers are likely to speak their mind if they’re upset, but when they’re happy with your services or products, they may not be motivated to tell you about it. Use social media as a way to encourage customers to give you great feedback. Re-Tweet favorable comments that people tag you in, ask your Facebook fans to fill out the ratings area of your page and create a custom hashtag for your customers to use on Instagram.
6. Since most social media users have filled out their profiles, businesses have the opportunity to personalize their customer service efforts. In many cases, you may want to refer to people by name, strike up a conversation about one of their hobbies or even visit their blog to comment on their latest post. The more you interact with your customer base, the more loyal they’ll be to your business.
For more information on social media and customer service, read CRMXchange.