This post is sponsored by Visa Business. For more information, please see the end of this article.
Admit it. When you consider purchasing from a business, you look to see if they have a website, don’t you?
You’re probably also curious if they have more than just a shingle on some web space—you’re looking to see if they have presence. Social media presence, that is. Let’s face it; the more active a business is online, the more likely we are to be reassured they are a real, reputable company who is going to supply a great product or service for our money. In this digital/social world, a well-maintained, active web identity can make or break your business.
But your pretty website and social media pages aren’t just about making sales anymore. They’ve evolved into a prime platform for handling customer service inquiries. We know that bad news is spread across social media, like Twitter and Facebook, faster than good news. This is true for your business, too. An unhappy customer is more likely to post about their experience than a happy one. Even if you currently offer a toll-free phone number and customer support email address, it may not be enough. Clients are expecting more!
It’s become essential to have an interactive social media presence. Why? There’s a good possibility that your customers or potential customers would rather jump on Facebook or Twitter to ask you a question than pick up the phone or send an email. If you’ve never thought about using social media for customer service, now is the time.
So, how do you get started?
How to Use Social Media for Customer Service
Get Set Up
If you’ve already set up a business Facebook and Twitter account, you’re already there. Consider the social media platform that might work best for you to handle customer service. If you’re a solo entrepreneur or micro business, consider setting up one social media platform for customer service. This will be easier to monitor and respond to, than providing customer service across all your social platforms. If you have the manpower and are able to monitor multiple sites, than do so.
Once you choose the platform you’re going to use, advertise it! Let customers know on your website, in your email signature, newsletter and other marketing routes, that they can ask questions and receive customer service via your Facebook or Twitter page, etc. You’ve probably already gotten a question or two, so build on that by actively advertising that it’s appropriate and encouraged for people to do so.
Perfect Your Timing
The faster you can respond to customer service inquiries, the better. People don’t want to wait for an answer to a question or response to a problem. Because we think of the Internet as ‘fast,’ the idea that we’ll get quick service is pretty prevalent. Consider a reasonable amount of time in which you can respond to inquiries, say 24 hours or less. Even if you’ve only set up customer service on one social media platform, monitor all of your social media sites at least once a day for any inquiries that might have been inadvertently posted somewhere else.
Train Your People
Not every comment left on your customer service page will be pleasant. Problems will happen. Know ahead of time how you’ll handle an unhappy customer. If possible, try to resolve the problem online where the original problem was posted, so you can build broader confidence in your ability to keep customers happy. If someone other than you is handling your online customer service, be sure he or she is properly equipped to handle and resolve problems. It’s not always how fast a problem is handled, but how well. Resolving an issue promptly, and with as little disruption to the customer’s time and wallet as possible, is likely to have a nice result.
Nice=repeat customers. Your number one goal of customer support!
Keeping customers abreast of changes and problems with your business can stop a lot of questions before they arise. For instance, if you have production or shipping delays, post it to your customer service platform so people are aware. Apologizing for any errors, delays or mix-ups always helps smooth ruffled feathers and keeps customers satisfied. After all, isn’t that the point? Work it to your best advantage!
In this fast-paced social world, customers expect fast answers. Social media offers a great way to enhance your customer service experience, build customer relationships and display how important service is to your business. It’s a total win for everyone—especially your bottom line.
Check out Visa Business’s awesome infographic about using social media for customer service below! (Click on the image to see it in full size.)
I am blogging on behalf of Visa Business and received compensation for my time from Visa for sharing my views in this post, but the views expressed here are solely mine, not Visa’s. Visit http://facebook.com/visasmallbiz to take a look at the reinvented Facebook Page: Well Sourced by Visa Business. The Page serves as a space where small business owners can access educational resources, read success stories from other business owners, engage with peers, and find tips to help businesses run more efficiently. Every month, the Page will introduce a new theme that will focus on a topic important to a small business owner’s success. For additional tips and advice, and information about Visa’s small business solutions, follow @VisaSmallBiz and visit http://visa.com/business.