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Use Social Media to Improve Small Business Customer Service

Social media interactions can make or break a small business. So, here are some simple ways to use social media effectively to improve customer service in your small

Social media interactions can make or break a small business. So, here are some simple ways to use social media effectively to improve customer service in your small business.  

Customers Expect a Quick Response

For instance, ½ of Twitter users expect a response within an hour, a recent study reported. 4 out of 10 Facebook users expect the same. Therefore, timely responses are key. Importantly, if you wait more than an hour, you risk disappointing a large portion of your customers. As a result,  your small business customer service suffers.  Because social media is so immediate, it can help to improve small business customer service greatly.

First, Using Social Media to Improve Customer Service Response Times

Where Social Media Chatbots can Help Customer Service

When a customer sends you a message, it's important to address it quickly. Often, people use Facebook Messenger or Twitter, and they expect a response within an hour. That's why chatbots are so important. It's relatively simple to set up a frequently asked question trigger. The chatbot can use these triggers to help deliver a timely response. For example, if your business often gets questions about your services, the chatbot can deliver custom responses based on a generic term 'services' or 'what do you do'.  In addition, they can be triggered off of a specific service item.

Chatbots are a Quick Fix not a Solution

This approach can be used across a number of simple questions. However, if the question is more complex for instance, you should program the bot to have a live operator take over.  Chatbots are good, but the can seem fake. If relied on too heavily, they can do more harm than good.

Second, Don't Argue. You Won't Win

As Michelle Obama said, 'When they go low, we go high.' Always keep your head. Regardless of how insulting or false a review may be, always take the high road. As tempting as it may be to take the Donald Trump approach, it rarely succeeds. For example, it can make you look petty, vindictive, and defensive. While it may grab people's attention, the potential damage to your brand is significant.

Use Social Media to Bridge to Your Benefits

Instead, think of it as an opportunity to re-sell your benefits. So, if someone didn't like what you did, ask them why. Importantly, it makes them feel heard and defuses the situation. Also, you may learn something new. If you can solve their problem, awesome. For instance, they may edit their review, or at least take the sting out of the original. Finally, every comment allows you to repeat your benefits.

An Example Interaction of How Social Media can Improve Customer Service

For example, let's consider this interaction:

User: Product X sucks! It's a waste of money! Don't use it!

You: I'm sorry that you had a bad experience. Might you tell us why you feel this way?

User: It's so complicated to use. I spent 30 minutes trying to make it work, and it's still not running. I wasted $X on something I can't use.

You: Typically, each box contains a step-by-step guide. Attached is a copy in case yours was missing. We'd be happy to set up a time to walk you through it. When it is set up properly, we believe Product X can provide [benefit], and we want to make sure it's doing that for you.  

User: Thanks! I never saw the guide. This is much clearer.

User: I used the guide and got it to work in 5 minutes. This was awesome. 

You: We're thrilled that'¦[repeat benefit]

Avoiding a Bad Review

These interactions are critical. They not only affect your ratings and search engine rankings but also help your brand and reputation.  Therefore, it's important to be friendly, empathetic, and human. More importantly, if the bot is chatting, it has to sound human and not artificial. Otherwise, even the best responses can sound canned. As a result, even if it resolved the customer's problem, they are less likely to react as positively as you would like.

Lastly, Utilize User Groups as a Social Media Tactic to Improve Customer Service

A user community can be very helpful in providing a balanced response from multiple sources. For instance, members have a way of self-policing other members. Also, they can provide supporting and independent points of view. You will need to set guidelines and have a bot filter, but they are worth the effort. Finally, having a moderator can help ensure that the group runs smoothly.

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About the Author

Brian Cairns, CEO of Prostrategix Consulting. Over 25 years of business experience as a corporate executive, entrepreneur, and small business owner. For more information, please visit my LinkedIn profile

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