Let’s just jump right into today’s topic, Customer Service.
I am still not sure when the decline of customer service happened, but for me, I am pretty sure the end of civilization as I know it ended when I moved to NYC. If you want a wake-up call in some of the worst of it, move to New York for a few months. Upon living here, I have experienced overbearing brokers and fees to get into an apartment that I could ironically never get a hold of again after I paid them (in cash). Then there was setting up my cable, that actually called me 1 minute before their scheduled arrival time, and when I didn’t answer, said they would have to RESCHEDULE since I “missed my appointment”—for three weeks later. And getting new furniture delivered? Forget it… I hope you don’t need a couch for at least 6-8 weeks and can take off a full day of work for them to deliver within their “desired delivery time of 9am- 3 pm, weekdays only.” Don’t even get me started about the locksmith who showed up for one price, then demanded $100 more, and when I said I don’t want it anymore for that new price, demanded a $12 “show-up fee”. When I said I wasn’t paying that, he told me he was calling the cops. I didn’t sleep well that night thinking he was going to key-in and well… shudders.
So, when did it become so hard to be a consumer? It’s our money, and shouldn’t we be able to have some sort of say in how our services are handled? And is it too much to ask that you just “deliver what you promise.” That has been the hardest realization for me to swallow. I never ask for above and beyond—if you say you’re bringing me a hot dog, and bring just the bun, it’s only natural that I am going to ask, “well, what happened to the hot dog?” Only to be accosted and attacked for even asking like some sort of raging rabid animal. Come again?
As a business owner, I realize this opens up a WAVE of opportunity for me, just by being nice. If everyone else is going to yell and demean their clients, I am going to treat them like gold—as they SHOULD be. Simply by communicating with them in a reasonable amount a time (I always say within 24 hours unless limited access to devices), delivering to them what I promised, and acknowledging issues and mistakes and fixing them accordingly.
5 Ways Businesses can Improve and/or “Social Monitor” Customer Service with Social Media:
1. Social Media is your best friend or enemy when it comes to customer service. Why not stay friends?
There is an infinite number of review sites out there, and many are specific to your type of service. Sadly, consumers are more inclined to write about a bad review, that a great one, so why give them any more incentive? Encourage your clients to write good reviews through a referral program, and ALWAYS address negative comments and reviews. Responding always gives you the hand to correct the issue. Have you not read about McDonalds massive #McFail?
1. Stay Ahead of the Game.
Google provides you this awesome little gadget called “alerts.” You can customize it to send you an email immediately (recommended), daily or weekly on search results for your chosen key words (such as your company name, your name, or your field of business). TIP: Make sure you enclose the key words in parenthesis ex. “Stephanie Barnhart” instead of Stephanie Barnhart, so it will find results for the words together and not just with “Stephanie” or “Barnhart” in the results. No matter who or what in the world is talking about you online—good or bad—you’ll know about it.
I can’t stress this enough. Nothing frustrates me more than someone who cannot respond to your phone calls or emails. It’s a simple, expected characteristic of the job! If you don’t have time to respond to your customers, you need to hire an assistant (or me!) to do it for you. Nothing gets Tweeted/Facebooked about more than a company who cannot return a phone call/email to a disgruntled customer. You know you’ve seen them—don’t become one!
4. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Corporations refer to it as churn—the ratio of clients you gain to the clients you lose a year. Don’t LOSE clients due to bad customer service! If you find yourself falling behind, get help. Media consultants, such as myself, are here to monitor your presence online, and keep up with your clients so you have time to do what it is you do best! Don’t let your business fail because you think you need to hire a full-time marketing staff for your small business. There are options in the middle!
5. Be Yourself.
Don’t promise the world and then drop off the face of the earth. The best business owners on Twitter are seen for their transparency and humbleness. People want to connect with other people. They want to see that you are a person and not a robot, so show them that. If your business is cupcakes, give them cupcakes! Show them you get up 3 am to get the dough ready! Snap a photo of the process, admit that they came out banana walnut instead of banana vanilla and you’re selling them as a “new taste test” for half price! People will, literally, eat it up. (Now don’t become one of those people who has to tweet their every activities – no one wants to know about your bathroom breaks! Be realistic!)
Start with the basics, and you will keep your customers happy! Happy customers = more money, more customers! Brilliant!
*** Social Media Today is actually HOSTING a live webinar on February 14th about this stuff! Learn something by tuning in!