It's A Customer Service Tool 1st, Sales Machine 2nd

Most small businesses and honestly “marketing experts” have not figured out the main reason you should be active and monitoring your Social Media platforms.  I’ve always stated (and believed) the top reason to use Social Media is for SEO and branding.  Secondarily as a great way to market your business on your own advertising medium.  I believed that until a light bulb turned on this summer.  Yes, Social Media still plays an integral part in your SEO and can be your own “radio station” but it’s now taking a backseat CUSTOMER SUPPORT.  Yes, Social Media sites like Facebook and Twitter have become the new 1-800 where your customers turn for answers and issues.  

We manage a few hundred Social Media pages for businesses in the Cincinnati & Northern Kentucky area. Most of these businesses are retail / restaurants.  Most days I find myself answering posts about something that went wrong with their visit to the business or questions that would have been a phone call in the past.  The vast majority are courteous and professional and just looking for a prompt reponse.  I can’t tell you how many respond back that they’re surprised someone from the business actually responded and in a timely manner.   This is not only a great opportunity to fix this issue, but it’s also a great chance to show other customers that you stand behind your product and service.  Our goal is to respond within an hour, and I can tell you this has helped sell products and fix a mad customer in the clients showrooms MANY TIMES.  

On Facebook, most companies I come across in these situations either don’t respond or delete the post.  This is a TERRIBLE IDEA!  If you’re not going to respond, DELETE your page and get off that Social Media Site.  There are certain situations where deleting is the only answer, vulgarity, competitors, spam, etc.  But if it’s a valid question or concern, FIX IT!  Not responding is like hanging up the phone on a customer that calls to complain.  Deleting the post just makes that customer angrier and will not only lead to other posts on your page and their personal account, but it will lose your company a customer.  

I’ve also found that many companies don’t respond to private messages very well.  I try to use Facebook in the same manner my clients customers do.  So when I’m in need of information that I know I can easily get with a phone call I instead turn to Facebook.  I want to see what my client’s competitors are doing and see how we stack up.  Recently I was in need about the prices and packages of the WEBN Fireworks deals Newport restaurants were offering.  I sent a private message to 6 places.  1 got back to me the next day, then another 2 days later and the other 4 never responded.  The worst part was when we made follow-up phone calls to ask about their deals, most had no clue or very little information, but that’s an entirely different blog post 🙂

Even funnier was my message to Lee’s Chicken recently.  I had went there with a coupon and when I arrived their prices were lower on their menu than the coupon.  Wanting to see how they’d respond and let them know of this issue (like I’d hope a customer would point out to one of my clients), I sent a private message to their Facebook page.  1 month later  TO THE DAY I get a response asking for more details.  Seriously, 1 month???  Businesses need to start treating Social Media messages just like their phone or front door.  Would you not answer your phone for a month?  Would you keep your clients locked out of your store for a month?  Of course not, then why do it online? 

LONG STORY SHORT, if you want to survive and retain TODAY’S consumers then you better start paying attention to your customers questions and concerns online.

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