Social media is a great way to demonstrate your commitment to customer service. But once you attract a prospective client into your virtual storefront, will they find you behind the counter or are you nowhere to be seen?
There is a lot of pressure for business owners to jump into social media ("You have to be there," you're told, "Or you'll be left behind!") before you truly understand what will be required of you.
Over-automating is ugly
Yes, there are plenty of online marketing tasks that you can outsource and automate, just be sure that customer service is taken care of by a real person in real time.
It's very easy to see who is automating instead of engaging, because their social media accounts display a stream of announcements, links and advertisements, with no replies, referrals or conversation.
And to someone who sends you a message or replies to one of your updates, but gets no response (just more blasts of information), that silence speaks volumes about you and your business.
Once you've put yourself out there on social media, the customer service is only beginning. There must be a response, and it must come from you.
Are you concerned about missing messages but you don't want to spend time checking your account? Hire someone else to monitor it for you, or subscribe to a service like Postling or Nutshell Mail to get email updates of all your account activity.
NOTE: It is sometimes appropriate to outsource your ongoing social media conversations, just be sure your audience knows that someone is writing on your behalf, e.g., with a note in your profile that says, "Tweets by _____, on behalf of _____."
Content marketing is customer service
Social media is simply another mode of communication; a chance to demonstrate your commitment by responding to your clients and potential clients – quickly, courteously and professionally.
And perhaps the best way to respond is to create new content that addresses the questions and comments you're hearing. I've written before about how blogging improves your customer service. By being constantly focused on what your ideal client needs, you will be more tuned into delivering those solutions. Denise Wakeman calls this growing "blog antennae," while Jeff Korhan says, "blogging gives you clarity."
Sharing your content via social media is another way to be of service to people in your network – with tips, tools, insights and strategies to help them in their lives and/or businesses.
After all, helping out is one of the key principles of networking – whether you're offline or online – and it allows you to turn social networking into business networking.
Whether they're prospective clients, referral sources or fellow business owners in your community, show your online network that you're here and you care. That's good customer service. And that's good for business.