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Social media and customer service

Social media and customer service

By Keiana Smith-McDowell

How is your company responding to customer concerns?

Recently, I researched two very different, yet successful, companies and how they use social media to address customer issues. One was very successful in its social media approach; the other was not. The issue wasn’t in numbers; numbers alone don’t provide much insight. The issues were strategy and engagement – issues faced by both small and big businesses alike.

Many companies believe a high follower count on Twitter and thousands of likes on Facebook translate to success in customer service, but this is far from true. When a company with brand recognition (whether it’s a big brand like Target or a local favorite) decides to dive into the social media pool, gaining followers can be the easier part. Keeping them is the challenge, and that’s where accessibility and engagement come in to play.

Accessibility

Customers want to feel like they can reach you, especially if your company provides a product or service they pay for and have been loyal to. If a customer has questions or concerns, they want to feel like they can get in touch easily – if social media is the easiest platform to do so, they’ll use it. And it’s up to you to meet them there, respond and provide that customer service they’ve come to expect.

Engagement

When the company with the more successful broadcast social media approach wanted to take the next steps to enhance its brand and interact with customers, its first step was to hire social media strategists to focus solely on customer care. That company understood that customers define the brand’s success, and listening is key. After they gained access to customer concerns, they were able to create a social media campaign around customer care: “If you have a question tweet us @____________” and “Tweet us photos of how you’re using our product and we will help you get the best of your experience.” With the help of expert strategists and genuine engagement online, this company fared better with their online reputation and keeping customers satisfied.

Insights

Another great way to connect with and address customer concerns through social media? Through user-generated content such as blogs and discussion forums. Creating a sense of community among customers allows you to get an inside look at organic conversations between them, which are invaluable for gaining insight into what’s important/frustrating/exciting/etc. to your customer base. You can join in the conversation as well, but fostering discussions is a unique way to get to know your customer – and learn how you can best address their concerns.

Online communities and a social media presence don’t have to be expensive to create, but with a long-term goal of engaging with customers to provide great customer service, you’ll likely find that your strategy will lead to a payoff of a thriving business.

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