In our experience, resourcing a social media campaign internally or outsourcing to a digital agency is not practical for most small businesses who are, at the very least, sceptical or do not have the time nor the budget to invest in something that doesn’t provide any specific or measureable return on investment (turnover or driving direct sales etc).
It’s worth noting that I’m deliberately ignoring the positive aspects of social media; the concept of building brand, customer engagement, specific targeting and the like, and emphasise that this is just our experience in talking to and working with directors of small businesses.
However one area which does prick the ears of those running small businesses is using channels like Facebook and or Twitter to improve customer service. Most small businesses have resource set aside for customer service and incorporating this into a social media forum is something that businesses should consider. It may also save time and costs and be specific enough to monitor as well as “killing two birds with one stone” – engaging with customers whilst answering their complaints, queries and questions.
Here is a link to the AT&T Facebook page www.facebook.com/ATTSmallBiz – (used as a case study for Facebook) for small businesses where you can see in the right hand “customer service” posts as well as general information. A great example is the ASOS customer service page – www.facebook.com/ASOSHeretoHelp, which is specifically targeted unlike the previous example.
Whether it be on Facebook or in another form, having a dedicated customer service response channel is now even more important given the nature of the web with very public business and product reviews and blog sites. We believe there is great value in upping the profile of your customer service by doing so on Facebook as this speaks volumes about your business. It will however need dedicated resource and focus, for which you may be able to divert or modify the resource in your existing customer service department as it really shouldn’t be taken half heartedly.
At the risk of repeating myself, when setting up a Facebook page which is specifically targeted to customer service, we strongly suggest you create a targeted page or even Facebook application which is purely for that purpose rather than a wishy washy page of general promotional comment and writings. Ensure your customers are aware of the page and direct them to post their queries on your Facebook page wall.
The most important point is to ensure that any customer service premise (examples of which are noted below) is still used for your Facebook channel and that you have the dedicated resource to respond quickly and effectively.
- You answer questions and comments quickly. Today’s consumers are used to real time responses and a long delay in response will have the opposite effect and increase frustration.
- Whoever is responding to the queries has the authorisation to take quick and positive action.
- Your response is genuine and authoritative, tailored to the individual asking the question rather than set responses that are better dealt with by FAQ’s on your website.
- You are not afraid to apologise and offer a solution. If any compensation is required again tailor this to the complaint i.e. is it a valuable returning customer or a casual customer? Vouchers for the prior or direct monetary compensation for the latter.
- You monitor, but are not afraid to let customers to talk to one another and make comments.