As a small business, you are probably all too aware of the impact and influence social media has on your marketing activities and your customer service levels. Many businesses use social media, like Twitter and Facebook, to connect to more people more quickly. This instantaneous and flexible customer interaction allows businesses to more accurately portray their messages, respond to customers’ comments and reach untapped consumer markets more easily. But, it is not as easy as it sounds and it shouldn’t necessarily replace traditional methods of customer service, like a phone call.
According to a study by Echo Research, two thirds of people say they would prefer to use social media to contact a company than phone a call centre. However, you need to clearly define your strategy. Your social media needs to be monitored and don’t rely on knee-jerk reactions to respond to a less-than-friendly comment. It can be easy to fly off the handle, delete comments and get into a slanging match online. Just remember who else is reading the comments and think carefully about how you respond on your social media pages. Allocate a dedicated member of staff to deal with this side of things. This great guide gives some useful tips on using Facebook as part of your customer service offerings.
Another point connected to the above is that you shouldn’t rely on social media as the only way clients can contact you. Just because some customers might prefer to write on your Facebook page rather than phone you, doesn’t mean you should eliminate your phone centres. Many people will still want to call you. Sometimes, it is more satisfying just calling a company to deal with an issue directly – perhaps your business relies on sensitive information and customers would not want to share this online. Social media doesn’t work for all companies, and there is certainly no one-size-fits-all approach to how you should use it.
Some companies use social media due to cost – setting up a phone centre is simply too expensive and it is just easier to use social media instead. As a small business or an entrepreneur, if a call centre doesn’t work for you, have a dedicated set of mobile phones which key members of your staff monitor. Your customers will get through and talk to someone at any time of the day, and you won’t have to pay large fees for a call centre. It is a much cheaper way to be there for your customers and perhaps works well when also aligned with an appropriate social media outlet simultaneously. Perhaps one phone line could be dedicated to a “technical support” and another for “order enquiries” and so on.
If operating abroad a lot or across the country, and if you are the only one in your business, get an international SIM card and a contract that allows you to connect anywhere. The mobile broadband provider mobi-data give coverage in up to 40 countries with a 97% UK coverage. What is ideal about a service such as this is that you will also receive a data package so that you can respond to both phone calls from customers and social media wherever you are, at a reasonable cost. With a deal that allows you to pick up emails as well, this gives you the power to always be on hand and respond quickly – remember that a quick response is a great sign of good customer service.
In reality, you need to look at your individual business to assume a customer service approach that suits your needs. Indeed, in a world where every business is unique, it is important to seek a balance. Just because everyone else seems to be using social media, doesn’t mean you need to. However, don’t dismiss it as being an amateur approach. Social media can have many advantages too – just so long as you use it properly.