Ever feel slighted, ignored, disenfranchised, “sold to”, taken for granted, or just plain commoditized? For many prospects, these feelings are what prevent a sale from taking place. They prevent repeat sales, prevent referrals, and encourage negative word-of-mouth.
Clearly, great customer service – supported by great training and great management – are fundamental, but how can social media be used to improve the experience?
Before the sale:
- Set expectations about the customer experience
- Provide access to support forums and other customer-only tools
- Curate and encourage interested bloggers and a “fan” community
At point of sale:
- Orient the customer about YouTube how-to’s and peer support forums.
- Create a “quick-start” page where veteran customers can add their ideas, videos, photos, etc.
After the sale:
- Use surveys to uncover latent service requirements, and use this information to create social service content
- Implement social monitoring tools to identify hot spots – and opportunities. At the very least free tools such as Google Alerts and Hootsuite. If the volume is higher (or you want better functionality), use a paid tool such as Radian6.
- Staff up for direct-to-customer triage on Twitter to address issues on a quick-response basis. Empower these front-line workers to actually resolve issues – not merely empathize and apologize.
- Reward customers who provide peer-based support with status, early information on what’s new, product samples, etc.
- Beyond posting static manuals, allow the customer community to comment on each page, add their own content, and share through social channels.
- Make it mobile: Convert the existing static content into a mobile friendly format, with one click telephone support. No PDFs or Flash files!
- Automate the collection of testimonials and case studies. After the sale, auto-send a request that would generate feedback that can be used in a social setting.
This week’s action plan: Great customer service starts in the real world, and speaks directly to the strength of the relationship between you and each person you serve. Social media can amplify the good or the bad, and it can serve as an additional communications channel: what it can’t do is fix a fundamentally flawed experience. This week, identify one aspect of your product or service to improve. Then cover your bases so that you are as responsive through social media as you are through traditional channels.
Postscript: Sharing your success in the social world is far more satisfying than fighting a rearguard action regarding complaints and being unresponsive.