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by Andy Williams on 26th January 2012
Social Media is now part of every day life. If you spend a percentage of your day online then you will almost certainly have a social profile of some sort. Twitter and Facebook are sites a majority of people are active on, with the likes of Google Plus also now very much in the game.
These sites are now so set into our lives that most of us no longer think twice about what we say on them, making them a common place for us to moan. We don’t even give it a second thought. If something has annoyed us then we will Tweet about it.
The same goes for anything that impresses us. We now go out of our way to shout about it.
Products, companies and brands are all being spoken about online, all the time.
And one thing you can be sure of – people will be talking about your company.
But are you watching what is being said?
Combining social media and customer service has become a very powerful tool with more and more companies now using social platforms to interact with their customers. Being able to react and respond in real time can make a huge difference in how your company is seen and spoken about. And when it is done correctly you can turn any negative comment into a positive outcome.
Something I recently experienced:
On the morning of 13th January I got into my car to find that it wasn’t just the outside of my windscreen that had frozen over. The inside had as well.
All autumn and winter so far I have had to put up with condensation on the inside of my windscreen. This had resulted in sitting and waiting for this to clear, sometimes for up to 15 minutes, slowly driving me mad. Enough was enough.
And so by the time I got to work I was ready to vent my frustration and I was ready to voice it through a channel that has now become common place as a platform for voicing opinions to all those online – Twitter.
Now, I am sure that there are numerous car fanatics out there so it is worth noting at this point that I don’t know anything about cars, I have no real interest in cars or how they work. I couldn’t care less. So my expertise in these matters is limited and the only denominator that I could think of was having my windscreen replaced by Autoglass in the last 6 months.
So in 140 characters I got it off my chest including the @Autoglass tag (as is now habit when referring to someone on Twitter). As far as I was concerned that was it. OK, it wasn’t the angriest of rants but it was off my chest. Time to get on with the working day.
However Autoglass are using social as one of their customer service tools, and using it correctly. Within a few hours I had received a tweet back asking me to email them my car registration to the included email.
Within 24 hrs I had also received two phone calls from customer service, one from the main centre followed by one from my local centre. A call out was booked to come out within a couple of days.
They came out, fixed the problem and ever since I have had a clear windscreen.
Impressive customer service all sparked by a throwaway tweet on a cold morning. I wasn’t even actively looking for any action to be taken.
This was an excellent example of how using social media as part of your customer service can change opinions, get people saying positive things about your brand and get you recommended.
Autoglass went from a company I didn’t really have a second thought for to one that I have spoken about to others about how impressed I was with them and of course putting together this post as an example.
Working in the industry, this kind of customer service is something I recommend to those it would suit. I advise on how social platforms should be used to reach out to customers. However seeing it in action still left me impressed. So imagine the impact it can have on people who aren’t in the industry, those who don’t expect this kind of service.
It has become commonplace for most businesses to have a Twitter or a Facebook account set up. But too many think this is enough. The belief that simply having a presence on these platforms is all that is needed is all too common.
It’s great that you are updating your feeds regularly with offers, updates and positive news about your company but these platforms could and should be doing so much more for you.
So what should you be doing?
Managing social media is time consuming. If you are serious about using social as one of your tools in customer service then you have to stay on top of it. This can’t be something you check as and when you have time. You have to make time. This has to become part of your working schedule.
Unless you can afford to hire one person who’s soul purpose it is to monitor this, the chances are it will be left to someone within the company to keep an eye on things. This shouldn’t be the case. Make it everyones job to work on this. The more people keeping an eye the more chance you have of keeping on top of it.
Twitter and Facebook aren’t the be all and end all of social interaction. People are talking and commenting all over the Internet. Review sites, forums, blogs, social sites, the list will continue to grow with more and more platforms being set live all the time. You need to monitor as much as you can.
Set yourself alerts such as “Google Alerts”. These can be set to inform you any time someone is talking or mentioning you.
This should be done as well as actively being on these sites. Don’t just rely on alerts.
This is real time feedback. This is what your customers are saying about you right now. It is so important that you listen.
If all you see is positive feedback and comments then brilliant. Listen to what people are saying you are doing right and carry on doing it.
However, there isn’t a company on the planet that gets everything right, so there will always be those who aren’t so happy. But this doesn’t have to be a negative point.
Platforms such as Twitter and Facebook give you the right to reply. Look to correct whatever has gone wrong.
And most importantly – Respond
The whole point of using social is to give you real time access to your customers. If your company is being spoken about, even if like my case above, it’s just a throwaway comment, respond.
If you are monitoring your brand as you should be then you have access to deal with any complaints and even praise instantly.
It’s this prompt reaction that impresses and gets people talking.
Social media concept in thumb up symbol via BigStock
Andy Williams, our DADI award winning Digital Marketing Manager will be giving you useful insights into local search and the overall SEO landscape. Andy has over 9 years experience in the SEO industry including 2 years as the in-house SEO consultant with a leading Web Design company.