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Don’t Miss Out on the Benefits of Social Media in Customer Service

Posted by: ChamberofCommerce.com

Don’t Miss Out on the Benefits of Social Media in Customer Service
Your company probably has a strong understanding of phone-based customer service. It’s possible you’ve even graduated to real-time chat support for your customers online. You May13might think you’re reaching your customers in every possible way, but have you factored social media into your customer support processes?

The number of brands using social media to provide customer service doubled from 2011 to 2012, rising from 9% to 18%, according to The Social Customer Engagement Index 2012. A trend embraced by only one in five companies might not seem terribly relevant, but in today’s increasingly social-media-driven market, incorporating social media into your customer service is critical if you want to stay ahead of the curve. As more and more customers shift their primary streams of communication to platforms like Facebook and Twitter, it’s wise to make sure your company is also online to address customer questions and concerns

Brands With Social Media Savvy
As a customer, I love having the option to solve an issue I have with a product or service by reaching out to the company via Twitter. I don’t have to sit on the phone pushing buttons, or suffer through five different transfers. I’ve interacted successfully with Dell and Quickbooks on Twitter, and tried to engage with plenty of other brands (many of whom were not actively listening to customer tweets and failed to acknowledge my requests).

One company who is listening to their customers via social media is Dell. The company’s @DellCares account monitors what’s being said about the brand on Twitter—for better or worse—and responds accordingly. Several years ago, I had a broken Dell monitor the company’s call center said was no longer under warranty. Disappointed, I vented my frustration by posting a tweet. Within minutes, Dell responded to my tweet, and a new monitor was on its way. Guess who’s now a loyal customer?

QuickBooks Online uses @QBOnline to tackle easily fixed issues. They’re quick to respond, and customers can search past Tweets to see if the solution to their own problem has already been provided.

Incorporating Social into Your Customer Service Efforts
Everyone from your sales team to your customer service reps should be trained to use social media to connect and engage with customers.

If you’re already using a CRM (Customer Relationship Manager) to capture all your crucial prospect and customer information then investigate how your system integrates with social media and how you can best leverage that functionality.  Insightly, for example, offers Twitter integration to give your team easy access to the tweets of a given customer. The additional knowledge gained allows you to build a more complete profile of your customer and their preferences.

Your business also needs a tool that can monitor what’s being said about your brand, and also respond to direct inquiries. You can use a simple solution like Hootsuite to set up searches for your company name and other keywords, or invest in something more robust like Radian6 (recently acquired by Salesforce). Whatever tool you choose; make sure your staff is trained to use it properly. Any mention of your brand should receive a response as quickly as possible from the appropriate person. An aspect of social media that’s often ignored is the boost companies receive not just from helping their customers, but also from being seen doing so. Taking care of an issue publicly shows other social users that you’re a company that pays attention to, and cares about, its customers. The key is swift and appropriate (i.e., on-brand) acknowledgment within minutes of the Tweet. Social media is all about instant gratification, and if your customers have to wait days to receive a response through Twitter, you’ve lost an opportunity to build a relationship— and possibly lost a customer in the bargain.

While traditional avenues of interaction remain a critical part of effective customer service, social media can and should be an important and versatile tool in your customer service kit. The more touch-points you have with your customers, the easier it will be to keep track of issues and resolve them before they escalate. Taking the time to make social media an integral part of your customer service process can help keep your company ensure you stay connected to your customers, and build strong online relationships that might just lead to a better bottom line.

Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com. She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources. ChamberofCommerce.com helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.

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