One of my first jobs was waiting tables. Working in the fast paced restaurant industry made me realize quickly the importance of good customer service. In fact, I distinctly remember a sign hanging in the kitchen that I would pass every time I headed out to greet new tables. The sign read: “A satisfied customer tells 5 people. A dissatisfied customer tells 20.” Back in those days, people would leave the restaurant, and I’d never hear what they said about my service and/or the restaurant. In this social media age, it’s different.
Social media has single-handedly granted more power to the consumer to be publicly vocal about their experience. But they’re not the only ones. You, as a business, also have the opportunity to listen, monitor, and address the words that are being said about your business. Whether you choose to seize that opportunity or not is up to; but regardless, people will and are voicing their experiences and opinions about your business online.
So how can you adapt to this social shift? First off, revisit the old saying “if you can beat em’, join em’”. In other words, have a social presence and actually participate in the conversations regarding your business. Secondly, up your customer service ante. Because your clients have the technology to share their positive and/or negative experiences about your business in a matter of seconds, you have a greater responsibility than ever before to deliver the most stellar, legendary service possible.
According to the 2012 American Express(R) Global Customer Service Survey, the sign in the restaurant was right. Americans will tell an average of 15 people about positive experiences, and an average of 24 people about poor experiences. But there’s more. Results also showed that consumers on social media tell three times as many people about service experiences compared to the general population. Given that there are hundreds of millions of people on social networks, that is a statistic that cannot be ignored.
Results also showed that consumers on social media tell three times as many people about service experiences compared to the general population. Given that there are hundreds of millions of people on social networks, that is a statistic that cannot be ignored.
Here are some ways to amp up your customer service in preparation for the tidal wave of social chatter:
- Know what to avoid: When asked about the top customer service irritants most likely to lead them to switch brands in 2012, eight in ten (79%) Americans cited one of these “Big Four Gripes”: 1) Rudeness: An insensitive or unresponsive customer service representative — 33%. 2) Passing the Buck: Being shuffled around with no resolution of the issue –26%. 3) The Waiting Game: Waiting too long to have an issue resolved — 10%. 4) Being Boomeranged: Forced to continually follow up on an issue — 10%
- Look in the mirror: In the words of Business Wire, “great service starts with the people who deliver it”. Motivate your associates and employees to provide outstanding service and ensure the service standards in your firm are set very high.
- Build relationships: Every great business is built on friendship. View customer service as the golden opportunity to build a deep connection, not as a burdensome requirement. Remember, in this era, a good relationship means free PR via social media.
- Listen to your clients: Instead of snarling, be thankful for client feedback–both positive and negative. Especially on social media. A while back, one of our clients received a heated complaint on his Facebook wall. While this would have normally went unaddressed, social media gave him the opportunity for rebuttal and damage control. His kind, proactive response to the customer complaint was socially visible–meaning that others saw his graceful reaction to the clients issues and concerns. In this situation, he successfully managed the impression of his brand. If the occasion arises, you should do the same. Check out sites Social Mention and Klout to stay posted on the influence and buzz about your biz.
- Go the extra mile: When prospects approach your business, they have a preconceived expectation of how they should and/or will be treated. If you meet their expectations, it’s likely that they’ll move on contently. However, if you exceed their expectations, it’s likely they’ll rave about you to their online and offline friends and develop brand loyalty. Remember: going the extra mile doesn’t mean you have to be perfect. As long as you genuinely care about the individual and work hard to meet their needs, you’ll surely impress them. Approach every person assuming they’ll talk about you on social media.
- Listen to your associates: The people who work the closest with your clients have incredibly valuable insight about what they want and need. Don’t ignore this opportunity.
- Seek to make an impression: Every decision, act, and interaction is an opportunity to drive loyalty and engagement. Seek opportunities that make a positive impression on your business. Is there a local charity event that your associate is attending? Take a picture and post it on Facebook. Is there an award or recognition that you recently earned? Post it. Outside of business itself, social media is the way to tug at the heartstrings of your customers and slowly develop the trust they want and need. Create opportunities to make a great impression.
Social media has granted you the peace to no longer wonder what people are saying, but actually participate in what they’re saying. It has also given consumers the power to amplify their messages about you–so amplify your customer service!