You’re probably familiar with this scenario: You log onto Facebook, post a cool factoid of the day for your community to process during their morning coffee break. And, by 3pm, among the dozens of comments and likes your post has generated, there it is – a random comment along the lines of: “I ordered my product last week, but I haven’t received it yet!” or “I tried to order one of your products but the order won’t go through.”
As business owners, we must accept the fact that our online presence opens us up to 24-hour customer service requests. They come in as emails, Facebook wall posts, Tweets, and even instant chats on Facebook and Google. And, if you’re not prepared for these requests, you could risk harming valuable customer relationships in front of your entire community—a community full of existing or potential customers. It’s critical that you and your team maintain a high standard when handling customer service issues via social media
And that’s what today’s article is all about.
Formal language stands out like a sore thumb on social media. It’s always a good idea to remain conversational, even when you’re managing a specific customer service request. So, in the above example, when the customer posts: “Hi Jane, I ordered my product last week, but I haven’t received it yet!”
The old way: “Thanks for your question, Jack. Our customer service team is always available to help you from 9am to 5pm Mon-Fri. Just call (555) 555-5555.”
The new way: “Hi Jack! I’m sorry to hear that. Let me put you in touch with Gina, my customer service manager, and find out what the delay is all about.”
Notice that although both are cordial and helpful, the second, more personal approach sounds less robotic and way more personal. This customer, and your entire community now sees that you are concerned, you acknowledge the mistake, and you’re putting this person in good hands directly with your customer service rep, Gina (yet another personal detail).
Just like a customer service email, any posts that come in from your customers on social media need to be acknowledged quickly. At least once a day, you or a member of your team, should mine your social media sites for customer service-related questions and respond to every post.
This could sometimes be a quick “Thank You” or “Glad you love it!” where you’re just acknowledging positive feedback.
But, if it’s a more complex issue that might take some time to resolve, you still want to immediately respond, so the customer feels heard. Don’t wait until you have an answer to get back to them, because sometimes this could take longer than expected. Acknowledge first, resolve second—that’s a golden customer service rule that will never change. The main difference is that your acknowledgement happens MUCH quicker than it would via email.
Don’t Leave Them Hanging
If you’re on your own, it can be quite a challenge to keep track of all the comments and activity happening on social media. But keep in mind that the main reason you’re on social media is to ultimately connect with your customers, so do NOT forget their requests! If you find that you can’t keep track and a few are slipping through the cracks, it’s definitely time to hire an assistant to come in and help. Customers are the lifeblood of your business, and unless they’re one of the “crazy makers”, you don’t want them on your bad side.
Make Them Feel Special
Sometimes, we’re so busy planning out our social media messaging that we forget to just give a shout out to the ones who keep you logging in every day. Don’t forget to acknowledge your community every once in a while for all that they do.
Most customers want to stay in touch with you on Facebook because they’re hoping to hear about exclusive discounts that only social media fans can enjoy, so indulge them! Offer coupon codes, contests, and discounts only on social media. It’ll not only make people feel like they got something special, but exclusive offers like this will attract customers to your social media page once the word gets out.
Keep Them in the Loop
Social media is a GREAT way to not only keep your community in the loop on new developments happening in your world, but to also make important announcements that might affect them. If one of your products has been delayed by unforeseen circumstances, you can shoot a video filling in your community on what’s going on. It might open a can of worms, but it’s very likely that your community will appreciate your honesty. This is where social media outshines any other form of media (how many times have you received empathetic posts when you’ve been in a rough spot?).
Ask for Feedback
If you can truly handle your community’s honesty, open up the floor to feedback on your new website, your new product, a recent teleseminar or event you just launched. Yes, it does put you at risk of pointing out your weak spots, BUT, it also lets your customers engage with other customers, answer questions, offer counterpoints, and help fellow customers make purchasing decisions.
Remember, it’s called SOCIAL media! So, let your customers speak for you, and if you’re offering value, it WILL be communicated to others. Consider it an instantaneous, live form of generating customer referrals.
This Guest Post by Ali Brown is published with permission and is © 2012 Ali International, LLC
Entrepreneur mentor Ali Brown teaches women around the world how to start and grow a profitable business that make a positive impact. Get her FREE CD “Top 10 Secrets for Entrepreneurial Women” at www.AliBrown.com