How to Turn Social Media Customer Service into a Marketing Strategy

  1. Push Value-Added Content: A good content marketing campaign is one of the strongest ways to deliver a better customer experience. It’s not about asking for business, it’s about delivering value and contributing to the overall customer experience. For example, a company could share relevant research or a white paper; a hardware store can create how-to videos on the most common household repairs and projects; a restaurant can share a popular recipe or even hold a recipe contest and invite customers to participate. When customers enjoy your content, it can become part of your self-service customer care solution, which we’ll cover in just a bit.
  2. Scale Important Messages: Use multiple channels and devices (e.g., emails, texts, tweets, Facebook posts, robo-calls) to get important messages out. Last year, there were at least two major airlines with computer outages that stranded thousands of passengers. Frequent and regular messaging would have given passengers information they wanted and needed. In addition, employees of the airlines would possess the information and answers to passengers’ questions and would have answered them consistently.
  3. An App Creates Interactive Engagement with the Brand: Consider developing an app. It doesn’t have to be expensive. It can include information about new products, better ways to use products, relevant articles, and more. For example, Starbucks has an app that drives their loyalty program by rewarding frequent visits and giving incentives for customers to come back more often. It’s very sophisticated and was very expensive to develop. But you don’t have to spend a lot of money.
  1. App developers like GoodBarber provide templates for inexpensive apps that are easy to create with no coding or programming. (Check out my app by going to the app store on your Apple or Android device to see an example of an inexpensive, yet effective app.)
  2. YouTube is an Amazing Social Media Tool: Video content is one of the best ways to deliver amazing value to your customers. Create content that interests your customers and compels them to comment. This allows you to respond and start conversations. You don’t have to spend a lot of money on production. These are YouTube videos, not theatrical releases. Reasonable video quality is important, but sound quality is critical. Make sure they are easy to hear and understand and include captions for the hearing impaired or viewers who can’t listen while they watch.
  3. Self-Service is a Strong Option: Socializing customer service is a perfect way to bring self-service solutions to your customers. Plus, self-service is available 24/7. You can have an FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) page on your website. Also, YouTube may be one of your most powerful self-service solutions. Companies sometimes have hundreds of videos on their YouTube channel. For example, if you use Salesforce and have a question, just search it on YouTube. You’ll find great videos produced by Salesforce — as well as some by their customers — that will give detailed instructions. My favorite example is when I bought my daughter a ping pong table. The instructions were hard to understand (they were in German), so I just typed the manufacturer name and model number into the search bar and within seconds I was watching a video that showed me how to put the table together step by step.
  4. Create LinkedIn and Facebook Groups: These groups are the perfect places for customers to hang out and answer other customers’ questions. And if an unhappy or angry customer shows up, your happy customers (who I like to refer to as customer evangelists) will come to your rescue.
  5. Dealing with Negative Social Media Posts: Everyone is worried about receiving negative reviews. Proactively monitor the internet for any mentions of your company and then respond respectfully. Beyond social media channels, there are other review sites to monitor as well. While TripAdvisor and Yelp are two of the most popular review sites, almost every industry has a forum where customers can talk about the companies they do business with. A negative review is upsetting, but again, it’s an opportunity to turn a rant into a rave by showing how you step up and take care of the customer. A few thoughts to consider when it comes to negative reviews:
  • Speed counts! When in reaction mode, be proactive about monitoring the internet so you can respond quickly.
  • Acknowledge the complaint and apologize for it.
  • Let the customer know you want to help and ask to get into direct contact to work on a solution. Even if the customer doesn’t respond, anyone watching will see that you made an attempt to right what the customer thinks is wrong.
  • Once in DM mode, work out the solution. You may have to move the “conversation” to the phone. That’s fine, as it may give you the chance to resolve the issue much faster.
  • Once the issue is resolved, go back to the original post and thank the customer for allowing you to resolve the issue.
  • As mentioned earlier in the article, the best outcome is to have the customer come back and acknowledge the resolution.
  • If the customer gets hostile, emphasize that you’d like to reach out directly to work out the solution, but don’t engage in a public argument.
  • Remember: you don’t want to win the argument, you want to win the customer.
  • A perfect average review score can sometimes seem too good to be true. Northwestern University did a study that showed a rating between 4.2 and 4.5 (on a scale of one to five, with five being best) was found to be the most credible and authentic.
  1. Have Fun: Sometimes you can interact with customers using humor. Humor done well can endear your brand to customers and go viral. One of my favorite examples is when Clayton Hove tweeted to SmartCar USA.
  1. Use Social Complaints, Questions, and Reviews for Research: Comments on social media can be your best research and development. Real-time customer feedback tells you what customers love, hate, and more. The complaint you hear over and over again needs to be fixed. We work with our clients to recognize the top three problems customers complain about. One of my favorite questions to ask is, “Since you know this is the top complaint, why is it still the top complaint?” We drill down to understand what drives the complaint and then how to eliminate it, or at least mitigate it. Social media gives customers the voice a company is looking for to understand what’s working and what’s not with their product and services. It’s a giant focus group or research project. Embrace the complaint and see it as an opportunity to show how well you respond and how you can improve your products.
  2. Be Real: Your responses should be personal and real. Use the customer’s name; be specific about what’s being addressed; don’t send a canned response that you’ve used a dozen times that week — customers recognize “fake” sincerity. With AI and chatbots becoming popular, it’s easy to come across as impersonal and diminish the relationship.

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Shep Hyken, customer service expert, business speaker and New York Times bestselling author, helps companies deliver AMAZING customer service and experiences!

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Shep Hyken

Shep Hyken

Shep Hyken, customer service expert, business speaker and New York Times bestselling author, helps companies deliver AMAZING customer service and experiences!

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