Make Sure Your Customers Hear from You – Or Face the Ugly Music

Posted by on November 22, 2013 in Marketing [ 0 Comments ]

how to be responsive to customersAfter the first silent tweet, there will be a chorus of toes tapping impatiently if you don’t respond quickly enough. There is a rising demographic of consumers who don’t want to be kept waiting, especially when social media makes it so easy for consumers to interact with brands and vice versa.

Related: Find out what role online marketing can have for you

Instant Communication…or Else

There’s no excuse for businesses to neglect their customers through any of their channels of communication, social networks least of all. And to give you some motivation, a recent study by Millward Brown Digital commissioned by Lithium Technologies found 14 percent of Twitter users want an immediate response to a tweet. Another 19 percent expect to be contacted within 5 to 30 minutes, while a further 20 percent want some recognition between 30 minutes and an hour.

Related: Why Tweets are a Small Business’ Best Friends

In other words, you’d better respond or else you’ll be dealing with much larger problem. Roughly 60 percent of social media-based customers would help to make sure there were negative consequences if a brand doesn’t respond. At the top of the list – 29 percent – most customers would tell their family and friends about their experience. This may seem like a slap on the wrist, but recent research indicates the majority of consumers turn to their loved ones to get advice and recommendations.

Leverage Social Media as a Customer Service Tool

With the information you gain from tracking social media posts – inquiries, complaints or recommendations – you can better measure any savings you experience by using this channel to supplement your customer service. One way to make sure you’re keeping track of your customers is by measuring the average engagement rate, according to The Next Web. With this tool, your business can keep tabs on the way your social media audience interacts with the content you post. For instance, that cluster of buttons with “Like,” “Pin it” or “Follow” aren’t there for decoration. They’re a way for your customers to make their voices heard – albeit digitally. For every post or tweet, you can directly see how many people have interacted with it. If you have an established customer base on social networking sites, you should be keeping your ear to the ground to locate who are the most “vocal” among all followers.

Related: 10 Things Your Business Should be Tweeting Everyday

As a small-business owner, you need to be sure of who’s looking at your content and assure them of your attention, and this tool can make it easier. From here, it’s a fairly simple step to make sure you’ve got the people in place to be extra responsive to the customers who are heavily engaged with your brand. They’ll likely be the ones looking for a response to your tweet within seconds. Similarly, you should be paying attention to the way social media can influence the investments you make in traditional customer service. This is a significant advantage that social networking sites can foster.

The expenses associated with a customer service helpline can be alleviated with smart use of social networks. It opens up greater number of avenues for communication so that not all customer concerns are funneled through phone calls, emails or face-to-face encounters. Granted, Twitter and Facebook aren’t replacements for other customer service channels, but they offer a more cost effective alternative.

What You Stand to Lose

The point is you need to listen to you customers or deal with whatever feedback may come. Do you remember the trouble United Airlines faced when a customer, who happened to be a musician, saw baggage handlers throwing his guitar? Not surprisingly, the guitar was broken, and after trying to get the airline to compensate him for the damage, the customer posted a song on YouTube disparaging the company. After four days, the song had 500,000 viewers and shortly after the value of United’s stock dropped 10 percent – $180 million gone. While the hit to United’s stock price may not be directly connected to the “protest song,” there’s no denying the vast number of people exposed to the poor customer service experience through social media.

Lesson learned: Listen to your customers and respond to them.

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