With the possibility of a message reaching millions of people in a few minutes, the social media is a great tool for customer service. Here’s how to reap customer satisfaction for your startup using social media
By Surekha Pendse
Social media is a boon — this is a fact well acknowledged by people world over. But in this series on social media, I am looking to unearth how social media can assist in the various functions of a startup. In the first column of the series we had looked at social media as a HR tool. In the second, I would like to draw attention to how social media can be used as a customer service tool.
Let us stop and ponder
So, let us first understand what is customer service?
Customer service is an interaction between customers and the company before, during and after the sale. The interaction allows the company an opportunity to exceed a customer’s expectation regarding the brand or the company or to connect emotionally with the customer. Customer service cell or contact center was the main source of connect but with the advent and propagation of social media, though the contact center still exists, most customers find using social media for customer service to their advantage. The speed with which you respond is the key — without waiting on the phone to wait their turn. Customers can comment on a product or company anywhere in the social realm and collecting it is like the needle in a haystack. The challenge is to find the message in time and respond to it really quickly, before it explodes and goes viral, affecting the brand name.
But if you get it right, social media as a customer service tool can help change the grievances into praises and that too in the public domain, besides being fast, smooth and completely responsible.
Social media is a great tool for the customers to he heard and seen by the social world ensuring superfast service. If you put your customers first, then as a company your vision will be seen by your team’s actions. The social world will realize you are really listening to them and you care tremendously and individually and they are not just a mass to you.
The social media as a tool for customer service is becoming a norm. But with the world evolving, customer expectations have also evolved and the bar is rising higher and higher and sometimes meeting those expectations is just not possible for startups. But you can’t ignore it altogether.
So, here are a few tips that can help you meet expectation and even delight the customer:
- Respond as soon as possible, after all time is of essence.
- Humanize your customer service efforts.
- Adopt approachable, responsive and supportive manner in your interaction.
- Create a process for your interaction and audit, review and regularly analyze these interactions.
- Make the communications interactive and responsive.
- Simply ask questions to know more so that the response is individual.
- Connect both online and offline world of customer service.
- Add value by disseminating useful information that customers will appreciate and engage.
- Listen to what customers have to say and do take their suggestions and incorporate them and let them know how they have helped you. Oh boy! That helps you get the praise.
- Ensure that all the comments are managed well.
- Don’t make social media engagement into a circus — practice caution and pick only those instances which are extraordinary.
- Pay attention to the quality of customer service provided because that matters a lot.
- A great response should go to the root of the customer’s problem, provide a patient ear, close the problem loop by providing an acceptable solution and humanize it with a personal touch.
- Be constant in your tone, process and response time throughout the organization.
- Be process specific instead of person specific though each of the persons can add their touch to it.
- Recognize when to take an issue offline.
- Learn to turn around even a negative situation to your advantage — think on your feet for innovative responses and solutions.
- Avoid gaffes of all kind — the social media can really land the brand into a soup if badly handled.
- Avoid the argumentative customers use the SOP to free you by taking it offline.
- Do log into your customer interaction to sometimes just listen.
There is a wealth of takeaways and pointers, feedback that your customers are offering you for FREE.
We all have a story to tell!
A story of your company that maybe awe inspiring, helps others, connects, fills the gap, propels to live the dream, or just plain mind speak or simply entertaining. Go for it…. Introduce your startup!
Surekha Pendse is a marketing and process enthusiast who loves working, reading, music and the internet, not necessarily in that order. She is a Welingkar’s Institute of Management alumni. Based in Mumbai, Surekha is a management consultant improving process in operations, marketing and social media marketing with more than two decades of experience to back it. You can get in touch with her at firstname.lastname@example.org