5 Guidelines for “Social” Customer Service Engagement

Today's blog is brought to you by Guest Blogger Rossana La Riviere of Brother Canada.

Consumers today are faced with an overwhelming array of choices. This makes it easy for them to quickly switch from one company to the next if they feel their needs aren’t being met. This means that companies now have to work much harder to retain their customers' loyalty. Many companies realize the strategic impact of further engaging with their customers through social media in order to build stronger relations that endure over time. We now live in an online world, and more and more companies are using this to their advantage, adopting new ways to engage with their customers to better meet their growing needs.

Are you a SMB thinking of jumping on the social media train?  Here are some tips to consider beforehand:

1-     Listen first, then act

First things first. Take some time to assess the situation and ask yourself a few basic questions. What are the newest trends in my industry? What are my competitors doing? Do they have a bigger presence online? Have they integrated social media in their day to day communications and customer service mix? Before acting, have a good overview of what’s going on in your industry. It will help you develop a strategic plan so you can determine the best tools to use in your “social media mix” (if at all!).

2-     Know who your customers are

Second thing to ask yourself: Who are my potential customers? What do they want and what are they saying about my company? Understanding your target market is important to better engage with it and meet its needs. At this point, you can assess if social media should be another communications tool in your marketing mix or if you should ignore it. Depending on your customer demographics, using social media as a customer service engagement tool for example (beyond phone and email) might be a good way to differentiate yourself from your competitors and give you that edge.

3-     Set clear, measurable goals

Once you have a clear picture of your industry and customers, set a list of clear, measurable goals. These have to be realistic and attainable. What am I trying to achieve? Where do I see my business in 6 months? 1 year? Whether you want to supply a superior customer service, increase awareness of your brand and products or increase sales, you want to be able to measure your results. This will enable you to get a better sense of what you’ve accomplished, and what needs to be improved.

4-     Prepare your staff

Next step: prepare your staff. An intense training program is essential to ensure that your employees are all on the same page and are able to convey your brand promise through social media. Give everyone communications training (tone, messages, style, etc.), seminars on social media (should you decide to take this route) and give a refresher in regards to your policies.

5-     Make sure your brand promise is integrated into everything you do

Consistency is the key to your success.  From your communications, to recruitment, to employee development, make sure that your message is consistent with your brand promise and that you have the “right people” that fit your culture and philosophy. This should apply to all areas of your business. Remember to look at all customer touch points and improve contact areas. The best in class companies consistently match their brand promise to all touch points!

Would you like to learn more about Brother Canada’s “social support”?  Active on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, Brother Canada uses social media primarily as customer service engagement vehicles.  Also of interest: Brother Canada’s new brand campaign highlighting typical Canadians’ frustration with poor customer service.  See more about their new campaign here on YouTube.

By Adam

March 14, 2012