Home » OPINION » Columns » TODD SMITH — 7 ways social media can improve customer satisfaction

TODD SMITH — 7 ways social media can improve customer satisfaction

TODD SMITH

TODD SMITH

As many organizations already know, social media can be a powerful customer relationship tool, driving traffic to your brand. It can also damage your brand when not used properly.

“Many brands have been severely damaged by not respecting social media, either by engaging on an ad hoc basis or simply having the wrong team or individual (or strategy) to manage it,” Mark Harrington, vice president of marketing at Clutch, a customer loyalty program provider, told CIO magazine.

So how can your brand successfully leverage social media? Here are seven proven customer engagement strategies for Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

» Answer customer questions and solve problems.

You can improve your customer relations by regularly monitoring Facebook and Twitter and answering customer questions, as they come up, said Avi Levine, executive director of the Digital Professional Institute, a digital skills training school based in Chicago.

“This gives you the opportunity to connect with customers as they are experiencing problems, have questions or just want to share feedback,” said Levine.

Moreover, by posting answers to questions on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram, “they will then be available for anyone to read.”

» Alert customers to problems or promotions.

Use social media to “be proactive,” said Davina Kristi Brewer, consultant, 3Hats Communications.

“When something’s going on, get out in front of it. If your website is down, let people know via social that you’re aware of the problem, that you’re working on it and when you expect it to be corrected,” she advises.

“Then when the website is back, let people know that you’ll honor whatever sales or promotions they might have missed as a result of the glitch.”

Another way companies can make a positive impression on customers is to use social media to advertise sales or promotions – and provide discount codes to their social media followers.

» Turn a neutral or negative experience into a positive one.

“From a customer service point of view, it is important to acknowledge each and every customer’s point of view (or comment), even if we disagree with it,” said Prantik Mazumdar, managing partner, Happy Marketer.

“On social media, if a brand publicly acknowledges someone, half the battle is already won since every customer rightfully demands your attention.”

“If a customer tweets something nasty about your company, view it as an opportunity rather than an insult,” said Gina Broom, marketing assistant, Affilorama, an affiliate marketing training portal.

“Let them know you’re sorry they’ve had this experience, and ask how you can help them have a better one,” she said.

“This will douse the fire, demonstrate that you care about quality experiences for customers and potentially even save your relationship with an existing customer.”

“When you’re faced with negative reviews on social media, apologize publicly and follow up privately,” says Adi Bittan, cofounder and CEO of OwnerListens, a customer service app.

“Your apology to the original post lets viewers know you’re addressing the issue, and (the) follow-up makes your response more personal for the customer.”

» Highlight your customers.

“Spotlight customers who have done cool and interesting things with your product or service,” said Rani Mani, director, customer success and social strategy at Adobe.

“Not only does it shine a spotlight on your customers, but it humanizes what you are offering the world. Lead with the success of the person and make it secondary that some of that success was powered by your company,” she says.

“The public is inspired by stories and the people behind those stories. So make it a point to tell compelling stories about ordinary people who are achieving extraordinary results (with your product or service).”

» Get feedback from customers.

With social media, feedback about a product or service, the purchasing experience or customer service “can be gathered as simple as tweeting or posting a question about it (on Facebook),” said Levine.

“You no longer have to go through the hassles of creating a survey. It’s short and sweet and customers can tweet/comment what their experiences have been.” If you go this route, be prepared for negative comments.

You can also use your Twitter or Facebook channel to “ask your audience what they’d like to know about next,” said Broom. “If you’re using Facebook, you can even give them options in a poll, so it’s easy for them to respond, e.g. would you like to know more about A, B or C? This gives you two bonuses: your audience feels heard, and you know exactly what content to deliver to keep them happy.”

» Humanize your brand.

Customers like to feel they know a company, or can relate to it. So by giving your company a human face, that is, assigning an individual or several people to manage each of your social media channels, who customers can get to know by name (and posts and photos), you help build the customer relationship.

“We use Facebook and Instagram to show our users that we are more than just a voice on the phone or a Twitter handle,” said Bubley. “We are real people who are passionate about what we do and who we do it for.”

» Don’t use your social media channels to sell or pressure customers.

“Customers aren’t looking for sales pitches and press releases,” said Brewer. “They want help, support, to get the most they can from your products, services or brands.”

Political debate scores better than football, cable

There are three shows on at the same time — The Walking Dead, Sunday Night Football and the CNN Reagan Library Debate.

Which one gets the most viewers?

Yep,  the show featuring 11 talking heads looking for a job. That’s the one earning more than 23 million viewers. It rated about 8 million more than football and 10 million more than flesh-eating zombies.

Prior to the festivities in the shadows of Ronald Reagan’s Air Force One, CNN’s most watched presidential debate was in 2008. America was excited about this Obama guy about to make history – and that was only 8.3 million viewers.

So, what’s with all the hubbub? Are we really becoming more of a politically conscientious people? Do we candidly want more of our leaders in the White House? Or, is it that we have to tap the brakes when we pass a huge wreck on the highway?

Out-of-tune mic | they’re taking Music City out of the country music marathon

The St. Jude Country Music Marathon & Half Marathon is changing its tune.

After 16 years, the name of the race has been renamed the St. Jude Rock ‘n’ Roll Nashville Marathon & Half Marathon.

Josh Furlow, president of the Competitor Group, Inc. which owns the event, said the reason for the name change was to further integrate the event into the company’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon global series, which includes a total of 30 cities. For instance, some of the other names in the series are the Suja Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Marathon, Humana Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicago Half-Marathon and Rock ‘n’ Roll Raleigh Marathon.

That makes about as much sense as the Country Music Motown Marathon. While Nashville is certainly Music City, it is not the heart of rock ‘n’ roll – although Elvis and other rock legends have big time roots in Nashville. Talk about brand homogenization! The Competitor Group needs a serious lesson in brand and reputation management. For that, they – and the new Rock ‘n” Roll Nashville Marathon – get a Seriously Out-Of-Tune Mic.

Each week, The Spin Cycle will bestow a Golden Mic Award to the person, group or company in the court of public opinion that best exemplifies the tenets of solid PR, marketing and advertising – and those who don’t. Stay tuned – and step-up to the mic! And remember … Amplify Your Brand!

» Todd Smith is president and chief communications officer of Deane, Smith & Partners, a full-service branding, PR, marketing and advertising firm with offices in Jackson. The firm — based in Nashville, Tenn. — is also affiliated with Mad Genius. Contact him at todd@deanesmithpartners.com, and follow him @spinsurgeon.

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