In April, approximately 4,000 people made their way to the San Diego convention center to attend Social Media Marketing World. Marketers from all over the world were there to learn about the latest ways social media can make money for their companies. The goal is to leverage these social channels into a marketing strategy that creates brand awareness, sells more products and services and gets the brand closer to its customer community.
Several years ago the idea was bantered about that customer service was the new marketing. Delivering an amazing customer experience gets customers to come back as well as refer their friends, colleagues and family members. Word-of-mouth marketing is one of the most, if not the most powerful brand strategies, and customer service is the way to get customers talking.
Bringing this concept into the present, it can be said that social customer care is the latest and greatest version of this “new marketing.” Handling customer service over social channels like Facebook, Twitter, etc., is a way to amplify your customer service story. Jay Baer, in his excellent book Hug Your Haters, said it best when he declared that social media makes customer service a spectator sport. When a customer posts a comment, good or bad, the world can see it. They can also see how the company responds – if the company responds at all.
This was the second year that the conference featured an entire track on social customer care.
Here is a crash course on getting started
- Get social. Your company probably has a presence on the major channels, but are you using those channels for customer service and support purposes? If not, it’s decision time – and that decision should be to move forward with a formal social care strategy.
- Be on the channels your customers are using. When I’m asked which channel a company should be on to support its customers, I simply respond by asking: What channels are your customers using? That’s a good place to start.
- Invest in software that monitors every mention of your brand on the Internet. There are a number of excellent software programs that will track mentions, comments, reviews, etc. Some are even free. You need to know when people are talking about you.
- Respond to every comment or mention. One of the biggest social media mistakes a company can make is to ignore social posts, comments and reviews. There is a reason they call this social media. It’s social, and that means others are watching to see how you respond to comments, especially complaints. All comments should be acknowledged.
- Respond quickly. If not responding to a social post is one of the biggest social care mistakes, then not responding quickly is a close second. Surveys indicate that companies are taking days to respond. If you’re in the social care game to win, then do it right. Don’t wait hours or days to respond. Respond within minutes.
- Avoid canned responses. Be authentic. A robotic or canned response may work initially, but over time people will see the pattern and pick up on the insincerity of the response. So, make it personal. Don’t just copy and paste messages. People are watching and making judgements about your brand based on the way you respond.
- Be proactive and engage with your community. Don’t just react to social comments from customers. Put out your own valuable posts. Not promotional posts, but good information with value to your customer community. YouTube is an excellent way to post content such as answers to frequently asked questions, cool and unique ways customers are using your products and much more. While some view this as content marketing, others (including me) see it as a valuable part of the customer experience.
Social care is more than customer service. It’s marketing. And, it’s inexpensive compared to other marketing strategies. One of your best assets are customers who are willing to evangelize your brand. So, engage with them. Get social with them. Respond to their comments, complaints and questions. Make the conversations public and show the world that you are the brand to do business with.