Sunday 18 September 2011

How to Use Social Media for Customer Service

The customer service department of any business should be built on the foundation of providing customers with a convenient platform for resolving issues, finding answers to their questions, and providing an additional level of support for their products and/or services. Times have changed since the days where customers would seek out and call the designated customer service line to express their frustrations with a particular brand. Today, those call centers may still be receiving a lot of calls, but the majority of their customers are inclined to express their dissatisfaction using Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and even YouTube. How do you keep up with this growing trend? How do you use social media for customer service?

Social media is more than a marketing platform, and a lot more than a place where people connect and share the latest posts from Reddit or Digg. It’s a giant ecosphere where people share their real-world experiences and interact with friends, family, and brands. It’s an opportunity for businesses to establish a relationship with their customer base that no 30-second spot on tv can. A real two-way line of communication between business and customer can be as easy as asking the right questions, and responding to what they have to say in return.

One of the most powerful tools in the world of social media for businesses is Using Twitter’s search, possibly in conjunction with a third-party app like TweetDeck (now owned by Twitter), can dramatically improve your ability to put your virtual finger on the pulse of your customer’s needs and issues. What are they saying about your brand, and how can you help turn that negative tweet into a positive experience that the customer will be inclined to share?

It’s been said in the past that your best customer is the one who tells you how terrible your product really is. This is especially true on social media. By solving this person’s issue that they’ve brought into the public realm, you have the opportunity to demonstrate the level at which your company cares about its customers, and that can be worth so much more than any single ad buy. By consistently interacting with and engaging your brand’s community, you can build up a reputation that will be passed along through word of mouth (and keyboard) for some time to come.

Social media should be handled like any other type of customer service. It should be maintained consistently and become a permanent part of your company’s business model. Paying attention to it during spare time between calls, or delegating a few hours a week to it will only lead to failure. Social media is like swimming. If you just dip your toes in, or jump in and fail to keep moving, you’re going to fail at it or — even worse — drown.

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