When it comes to buying decisions, women tend to hold most of the clout and power. In fact, women-owned small businesses contribute more than $3 trillion annually to the U.S. economy, according to the National Women’s Business Council. Unfortunately, though, many companies fail to market effectively to women, who are considered the largest demographic to use social networks when making purchasing decisions. But why shun or alienate this important group, particularly on social media?
These days, voicing customer service complaints doesn’t start with a phone call — it now begins with a tweet. According to a 2015 Gartner report, 90 percent of all companies will use one or more social media platforms to answer customer service queries by 2020. Because while calls and emails don’t have to be immediately returned, angry customer complaints on social media are out there for everyone to see; thus, responding promptly and courteously is the name of the game.
Despite the chance of receiving some or a slew of angry customer service complaints, turning to social media to perform these duties is an incredible opportunity for small businesses. So if your business or company routinely goes above and beyond in addressing customer service issues in a timely and considerate fashion, then turning to social media should become your next prime medium for customer service.
Public Displays of Affection
Most customer service interactions on social media typically go like this:
@Customer: “I just had a terrible experience with @Company! Not happy with my service!”
Now, there’s a good chance the customer isn’t even expecting a response; rather, they’re simply venting online, perhaps to friends and family. But this is your chance to swoop in and be the hero. Remember, their complaint is likely on display to potentially thousands of people, but so would be your heartfelt response. Perhaps it would look something like this:
@Company: “@Customer, we’re sorry you had a bad experience! Please DM us your service number and we’ll make sure this issue is resolved right away.”
Typically, nine times out of 10, the customer gets his or her problem solved and it ends there. But every now and then, these same consumers may go back on social media to sing the praises of your excellent service:
@Customer: “Not only did @Company solve my problem, but they also gave me a free service code for my next visit! Way more than I expected!”
These aren’t just best-case-scenario hypotheticals. There are countless examples of companies doing social media right and customers reciprocating praise and thanks for receiving extra services or future discounts.
Your Plan of Action
Your decision to use social media to perform customer service duties is easy — it’s just that the rollout may take a little time and effort. If your company or business is using social media for the first time, make sure to check off these boxes as you add social media to your customer service arsenal.
- Use the best technology available: Not all companies should turn only to Twitter to manage their customer service queries. Truthfully, you may be inundated with complaints and responses, making you lose track of important conversations that may not have been resolved. Instead, look to companies like Aspect to adopt a multi-channel social media platform to help manage the hundreds or even thousands of tweets and Facebook messages from your customers.
- Hire the right people: It may still be customer service, but social media is a different animal altogether. The employees whom you select to manage this arm of customer service aren’t just solving problems — they’re essentially the PR face of your company. In that vein, make sure to hire and train employees who understand the various nuances of social media and recognize opportunities for good publicity.
- Set a new budget: There will be more opportunities to surprise and delight customers when turning to social media for customer service. Going back to the (hyperlinked) customer service examples above, one stands out in particular: A representative from Morton’s The Steakhouse arrived at Newark Liberty International Airport with a full steak dinner simply because a renowned public figure jokingly requested as much on Twitter — oh, and because the forward-thinking steak house chain cares and recognizes the value of positive customer service interactions. The whole effort may have cost a few hundred dollars to carry out, but it was worth thousands more in good publicity.
When it comes to customer service, there’s no reason to hide from social media — that is, unless your company truly does has something to hide. Ultimately, companies and businesses that routinely perform exceptional service will thrive on having a new medium in which to quickly reach customers and prospects alike.