The way you interact with customers can truly make or break your business. In a digital world where almost all consumers are connected, complaints are one click away and reputations can be destroyed with a simple ‘share’ button. All it takes to ruin an organization’s reputation are a few bad reviews, complaints, and stories of negative experiences.
Similarly, good responses and great customer service can set you apart from the competition. In one survey, 54% of B2B marketers said they have generated leads from social media. Another research shows almost half of all US consumers take to social media to complain, ask questions, or praise a company for a good experience. One third of social media users even prefer getting in touch with customer service via social media rather than a phone call.
We understand no brand wants to end up on the wrong side of a viral post, but how exactly do businesses navigate something as complex as social media? By putting the customers first on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+, or any other social media channels they may reach you through.
1. Humanize Your Brand
You’ve already heard that in content creation and marketing, humanizing your posts is a great way to connect with the target audience. The rapport, however, shouldn’t end there.
Online users tend to favor interacting with other people rather than with businesses. When it comes to replies to posts and comments, it’s always best to be quick and empathetic. Social media allows you to reply to users and speak in a casual and conversational tone.
Having signatures for your representatives to sign tweets is a great way to show their human side.
2. Find Your Tone
Never underestimate the power of being positive, even with all the trolls lurking on the Internet. The way you frame a message can have a big impact on how it is interpreted. Develop a tone for your customer service team, which includes a language guide for your brand.
Create a set of guidelines of what and what not to say. For example, the list might include reminders to never make excuses, show frustration, or blame the customers, as well as to always answer as many questions as possible, use positive language, and explain with images, if applicable.
Groupon and their banana bunker come to mind as a perfect example of this tip.
3. Be Where the Users are
Customers want to be heard when they’re upset, and social media is usually where they vent. Naturally, there will be conversations that should remain private, but when you can, it’s best to respond to issues in public and on the same channel.
This helps consumers with the same concerns and shows your community how well you handle a situation. Do it right and you’ll end up with the customer coming back to the same social media profile with a praise for everyone to see.
4. Do Your Best to Acknowledge
Even if you can’t answer them right away, it’s important to acknowledge the consumer and their concern in a timely manner and give them a timeframe on when you can provide a full response. Say that you’re looking into their concern as soon as you can.
5. Listen to the Conversation
Always be active when it comes to listening to customers, even if they are not directly tagging your social media profiles. Tools such as Zendesk, Hootsuite and Tweetdeck, for example, make it easy for your support team to monitor and reply to posts mentioning your brand.
Listening to the social conversation, being alerted to any issue about your brand, and responding to these quickly can result in an impressive boost in your sales conversion. The key is to avert a potential crisis before it gets out of hand, as so often happens on social media.
A Consistent Strategy
Whatever the context of a post is—be it a complaint, question, or praise—being ready and able to respond with great customer service is crucial to any online reputation management plan. Focus on developing a consistent strategy and interacting with your community and this can only lead to good things for your brand.