Businesses, both small and large, now realize that social media marketing is a must-have tool in today's tech-driven world. Many businesses have social media accounts like Facebook and Twitter -- several even joined Instagram and Pinterest to reach a broader audience.
While promoting a business through these sites should be a part of every business' social media strategy, there is still one area many small businesses have yet to hone in on: social media as a customer-service tool. It's important to speak your client's language, and with so many active online, social media is an important place to be (Tweet This!). Here are some ways small businesses can utilize social networks for customer service:
Use Search Tools
In order to use social media to provide excellent customer service, you have to know what your customers are saying. There are a variety of tools you can use to track mentions of your business name and its products. Once you sign up to use these services, such as Google Alerts or TwentyFeet, you need to regularly review the results. It doesn't take much time, but does require consistent check-ins to be effective.
Put a Positive Spin on Complaints
Delegate the task of searching online to see what people are saying about your business. You can catch someone who is complaining about your business and intervene to make them happy. Turn a complaint into a happy ending. Although there are those displeased customers who will call you or write directly on your Facebook or Twitter page, there are also displeased customers that will instead share it on their personal social media page and spread it via word-of-mouth. Catch it before it spreads and you will do wonders for your business reputation.
Remember, Tone is Everything
When you respond to a complaint, remember to make it personal and choose your tone with care. Address your customer by name, never insinuate that he is incorrect in the complaint and always apologize. Respond with empathy, but do stand up for your brand -- and always be genuine.
Listen, Listen, Listen
When you receive a complaint on social media, remember it's more about listening than talking. Step back and let the customer have the floor. Ask key questions to make sure you can resolve their issues. Find out how you can improve your service or product and make it clear to the customer you understand and hear his frustrations and wants.
Focus on Creating a Customer Advocate Base
If a customer has a poor experience, one of their first moves will be to write about it on a social media platform. Instead of simply responding to the negative comments, businesses should provide such excellent service that they create a customer base that will advocate on their behalf if something bad is written.
Some businesses prefer to use social media exclusively for marketing. However helping customers online can actually improve a company's image and boost its reputation. Consumers want businesses to be reliable, professional, and accommodating. Through excellent customer service, you can show you are committed to satisfying your patrons. Keep that in the forefront of your mind and you may be surprised how simple it is to use social media as a customer service tool.
How has your business used social media as a customer service tool?
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Author Bio: 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.