Social Media is slowly, but surely changing the landscape of how local businesses provide customer service. In the not too distant past, it was enough for a local business to have an email and a contact number to be able to field customer questions and comments. Today, increasing numbers of customers are reaching out to friends, other users, and product makers or service providers directly through social media.
For local businesses, difficulties with this approach do not develop when a customer reaches out to them directly via social media, but when a customer uses social media to interface with others on a business’ product or service. Basically, the challenge for local businesses is customers have a large number of avenues to seek assistance or provide feedback which may not be directed at the local business itself. Local businesses need nonetheless to be aware of these “conversations” and when appropriate to intervene and provide assistance or a correction. Therefore, part of a local business social media marketing plan should include the tools to monitor all the major social media outlets on a daily basis even if the business does not have an account on each particular platform.
Customers’ use of social media to provide feedback and often receive assistance on a product or service offer local businesses a unique perspective and insight into what their customers want. By performing regular monitoring, your local business may discover your customers want more information on a particular topic or more video content showing them how to use a product.
A recent local business article indicated there is a trend among those less than 25 years of age to first take action on a social media platform prior to contacting a business about a product or service. This current trend in turning to social media is likely to continue. Therefore, as a local business it’s important to capitalize on the information you can capture from your customers using these platforms while ensuring you’re remaining vigilant in maintaining a positive and responsive reputation.
There are also two additional steps your local business can take in response to this customer service via social media trend.
- Provide an outlet or additional contact information on social media platforms. Your local business should strive to make it easy for customers to reach you. On Facebook, your local business can make it a regular practice to solicit feedback. Further, it’s almost common place for customers to post customer service request to your page. Expect it and be prepared for it.
- Have appropriate staff assigned to respond to comments and inquiries. The speed at which a respond is required on social media is significantly faster than phone or email. Evaluate your social media monitoring staff and augment coverage as needed.
For more information on this topic, consider reading this local business article.
Chris Marentis, an expert in the field of local business marketing, is the founder and CEO of Surefire Social.