Happy customer service week! Customer service is one of the most integral parts of running a successful company, and in honor of the week celebrating it, we are going to write on the theme of customer service through our various blog outlets. So, if you don’t already, be sure to follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our CEO’s blog with Forbes.
For our first post, we thought it might be a good idea to look at how customer service has evolved with the digital age and how you can use things social media tools to create a much stronger relationship with your customers.
We live in a hyper connected world, and this has changed the way people expect to be treated. Before lobbing a complaint meant having to call a specified line and spending twenty minutes on hold before being connected to some poor, underpaid schmuck who stammered apologies until you hung up. It was a sad state of things, but there wasn’t much drive to change things.
Facebook and twitter have completely transformed that dynamic. For one, irate customers can easily type up a complaint and post it. Suddenly you have a bad review floating around that can easily be found and damage your brand. Luckily, both Twitter and Facebook make it immensely easy to track anytime your business is mentioned. All it takes is a quick search and you can quickly see who is saying what about your business. That way, if something has gone wrong, you can take the steps to correct it. If they have a genuine complaint or problem, mention them in a tweet or send them a message apologizing and offering to rectify the situation. It shows that your company is willing to listen to its customers, and even if they refuse to move forward having that status update or message shows anyone following you that you at least tried.
If you cultivate a decent online following, you will begin to notice that people are commenting on your blog posts. While much of this will probably be spam, you will occasionally unearth an actual relevant comment. And when you do, don’t let them feel unappreciated! Respond and try to engage them in a conversation, even if they put something short like “Great post!” With a little prodding you can help cement customer relations and help build brand loyalty, which means repeat customers and recommendations.
Even if things go the other way and you get a flurry of anger, try to reasonably respond to the ones that seem well founded. You will get the occasional crazy rant, and sometimes you just have to delete those and move on, but don’t be so quick to erase a bad comment. Respond, see if you can build on it and if you cannot then move on. Again, the idea is you want to seem to be the reasonable, level headed person in this conversation. Even if nothing is resolved you have shown everyone reading your posts that you at least tried.
The digital age has made it extremely easy to connect with other people. So why are so many companies still calling at dinner and stuffing mailboxes full of pointless letters? There are those among us who are not very quick to adopt this technology, but the majority of people have an e-mail address or a cell phone. So, instead of bugging them when they are just about to sit down with a telephone call, asking them to rate your customer service, send them an e-mail or a text message (if they have given you company permission to, of course.) Phone calls are cumbersome, and honestly can be quite annoying if you don’t want to talk to the person on the other end.
If you find that fewer people are responding to digital communication methods, maybe offer them something for their time. Something like a coupon for 5% off an order may not seem like much, but it shows you value their time. Plus, coupons can be sent in e-mails.
All of this boils down to being willing to evolve and change with the times. Phone calls and letters are time-tested methods for helping customer relations, but they are annoying. People don’t want to have to sit on the phone or mail a card. Chalk it up to impatience or an expectation of immediate results, but businesses have to begin looking into new ways to chat with their customers. By utilizing digital media, your company can create truly personable relationships with its client base, which is something that no call center half way across the world could ever do.