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Using Social Media to Provide Another Layer of Customer Service

The enormous increase in the use of social media has opened up all sorts of opportunities that were likely not even imagined during the creation of the technology.

The key for resourceful users is to maximize the potential impact of their content in a way other users are not. For many businesses or individuals offering services to the public, this can be achieved by using the various available outlets to boost customer service.

In order to most effectively use social media for customer service, it is important to know exactly what results you are looking for, as well as which form of social media you are planning to use.

Customer service doesn’t stop when the buyer leaves your store, or clicks on the “order” button on your website. The ease with which customers and sellers can interact makes a customer service presence on social media a must. With social media’s ability to offer instant feedback on any number of issues, it has become increasingly important that anyone selling a product or service knows exactly what is being said and by whom.

In this manner, social media outlets can either be your best friend (if you know how to manage the message) or worst enemy (if you allow the negative comments to overpower your message). Just as a dissatisfied buyer can fire off an angry tweet, post a Facebook rant or blog about his or her experience, a prepared vendor can offer an immediate response that shows both an understanding of the issue and a solution to any problems.

For example, if your business sells custom printed t-shirts through an online store, you may find yourself with an angry customer whose product arrived late, or not as promised in some way. If this customer begins to attack your business through a social media outlet, having a product such as HootSuite, which serves as a central source for social media management, will allow anything using your company name to appear on your dashboard, regardless of which outlet the comment came from.

This can really come in handy when addressing issues such as what was noted above. Anyone reading an angry blog or seeing a Tweet from a disgruntled buyer can also find your response, which serves a dual purpose. It shows the public that you are conscious of what is being said about you and your products and services, but more importantly, it demonstrates that you care about your customers enough to respond to their problems and try to work them out.

The other key is the ability to offer a very rapid response before any bad message spreads too far and for too long. This is particularly important if the negative comments have to do with poor service; answering those charges, whether true or false, in effect renders the complaints as illogical considering the rapid nature of your response.

But responding to complaints is just one small piece of using social media for customer service. Having a Facebook page or Twitter account allows you to send direct messages to customers and prospective customers, drive more business to your website or brick-and-mortar store, and even offer coupons and discounts for your social media followers.
Social media is also a great way to roll out a new item or service in a way that traditional marketing and media efforts can’t do. Again, it has to do with how quickly the message is seen. A tweet or Facebook post can be instantaneous while using an ad campaign in other areas takes more time, since you have to develop your message and create the ads, among other things.

You also have the ability to get fast feedback on how you are doing in a number of areas. You can use a site like SurveyMonkey to create instant surveys that can be used to drive your social media marketing efforts. Also, asking for—and analyzing—feedback on a particular product, service, or concept can help you decide everything from how to market it to whether you even want to produce it in the first place.

If you do any business at all online, your website can be one of your best forms of customer service. In particular, if your site has a blog section, don’t forget to include content that can offer real solutions to potential issues, and make it easy for customers to offer their feedback. Your site should also include a page for frequently asked questions (FAQ) where users can find answers to your most commonly asked questions easily. Make sure your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or other business site is set up in a way that people can make the best use of what you have to offer there.

After all, the easiest way to ensure a positive response from your customers is to give them as little to complain about as possible. But if an issue does arise, you need to be able to respond quickly and reassuringly. If you have a product recall, shipping issues or any other problem that might affect the speed and quality of your deliverable, share that information quickly and loudly. While it might upset your customers, it won’t cause nearly the negative reaction that not sharing the information with them will.

Lastly, any response to a comment—positive or negative—should be done in a professional manner. Nothing good can come from challenging an unhappy customer with the same tone they use; in fact, it is more likely to reflect badly on you rather than the customer who started it. Be respectful, show that you care and offer a well-thought out solution that presents you as a caring company worthy of their business.

One largely overlooked key to doing any type of social media marketing or sales effort is to make sure you have the right person or people in charge, who understand your goals and how to reach them. If that is not your forte, or no one on your staff is adept at this, the best solution could be to hire an outside consultant to facilitate your efforts.

This is where a company like can really help. The ability to offer social media expertise, and a free consultation, can go a long way toward easing your mind that you are accomplishing your objectives in the most efficient manner.

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