By Ron Kaufman
Today, we tweet about the latest books we’ve read. We let our friends know where we’re eating lunch via Facebook. We post pictures of our latest purchases to Instagram. We post reviews of the businesses we frequent on Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Angie’s List. As consumers, many of us have gone social. We love telling people about our latest experiences, and we love hearing about what others have experienced so we know what to do this weekend and what to avoid. Unfortunately, this social reality is something that few companies have fully embraced. Until they do, they’ll be missing out on the social power of their satisfied customers.
Just think about the last book you bought on Amazon. Did you read the publisher’s comments first or did you read the customer reviews? Most likely, it was the customer reviews. That’s because people trust people like them. Companies that aren’t embracing social media today are missing out on huge opportunities to capitalize on the voices of their customers.
The voices of your customers can contribute immediately and powerfully to a better service experience. Companies should be saying to their customers, “If you did not enjoy our service, please tell us. If you did enjoy our service, please tell someone else.” Engage them. Tell happy customers to go ahead and be social about their great experiences and encourage unhappy customers to come to you via social media so that you can make it right and improve your overall service.
A lot of customer service is already being done online, customer-to-customer. Companies that embrace this behavior can improve their service and save on costs. It is not unusual for a customer with a problem to use Google to find an answer before approaching the actual company responsible for the product or service. A quick search brings you tons of answers via user forums or message boards. The truth is customers like helping other customers. They’ll go out of their way to help a fellow customer find a solution, but for companies to do that backend customer service there would be a cost. By engaging your customers to help each other, you can defray your costs, improve your customer satisfaction, and stimulate a loyal community by encouraging people in your online social space.
The trick, of course, is encouraging your customers to use social media in the most beneficial way for your company. In other words, how do you keep them spreading great things about your company while bringing their complaints only to you? [Read more...]