Online social channels have opened up unprecedented access to customers and with all the benefits that brings, it also means even small businesses technically are on 24/7 support duty. After all, problems, negativity, bad reviews: any of it can end up online at any time of day or night. What’s a small business with limited resources to do?
If we could sum up the response in two words, they would be:
As the online ecosystem has grown and matured, consumers are more sensitive than ever to advertisements, being marketed to, and corporate-speak. They want to know they are interacting with real people who care. As a local business, this can be your strength. While large companies have the resources, you have community. Be honest, forthright, and fair. Don’t spin. Own up to mistakes. Have a sense of humor. Be a person, not a persona.
Be clear about your support hours and accessibility.
Use your profile space to give people an indication of how and when you will provide support on Twitter so that expectations are set. You can make problems worse if a customer is waiting for a response and doesn’t get one for 24 hours or over the weekend.
Monitor for mentions of your business.
Beyond direct tweets, use software to monitor for mentions of your brand or business, or related hashtags. If you don’t know how, we’ll be covering that and software options in an upcoming series. You can also search manually using Twitter’s search function if you don’t expect many mentions to start.
Take negativity offline. Bring back positivity.
Start by being understanding of their issue and apologizing for any negative experience or inconvenience. Then, get upset customers into direct messages, into email, or on the phone as soon as possible. Don’t keep a negative conversation thread going online if you can help it. After resolving the issue, politely ask the customer if it would be okay to summarize the resolution online by tagging them in a tweet.
Don’t wait until someone is explicitly complaining or complimenting your business. Look for neutral comments or related comments and start a conversation. Don’t go into marketing speak or fish for reviews; be a genuine person and have a conversation, ask for thoughts or feedback, or thank them.
Okay, I have the general idea, what are specific strategies?
Now that you have the high-level overview, stay tuned for our upcoming series going over more specific tactics and ideas, as well as case studies and examples!