WEDNESDAY, APRIL 16, 2014
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Social Media Boosts Customer Service Offerings For Firms

Customers are Ignoring You by ronploof, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License  by  ronploof 

With companies and brands trying to expand their client networks via social media, the methods of responding to customer queries and complaints have also gone beyond pen and paper.

Client Service, Social Media Style

In the past, if you had a grievance over a service or found a product dissatisfactory, you had either to head over to the store where you got it or type a letter to the manager detailing your concerns. By visiting the office, you are likely to wait your turn in a long line; by letter or email, the waiting could be longer, depending on when the company checks it, or when it remembers to reply, if at all.

Twitter has presented a highly-effective platform for businesses to directly engage with their clients and would-be customers by opening doors for real-time, one-on-one interaction. Provided that the company has an active Twitter presence, you can get answers to your questions in just a few minutes or even seconds.

Here’s an example of a tweet exchange between a customer and American Express (@AskAmex). Notice that the sender immediately got her reply within the same day and even exchange a few tweets to clarify her inquiry.

Why Use Twitter For Your Customer Service Efforts

More than quality products and a high-profile brand, what companies need most to attract new clients and retain the old is a solid, quick-responding and pleasant customer service offering. With Twitter having at least 500 million users as of 2012, a single tweet containing a positive (or negative) comment about your company could spell the difference between increased sales and a loss.

Here’s why you should create a social media profile for your business.

1. You get to reach out and communicate with clients and would-be customers in real time.

Making your client service function easily accessible to customers is a major plus to keeping your customers happy. Also, this gives you the opportunity to better inform your clients with regard to specific inquiries, so make sure you allocate a dedicated team to taking care of social media channelled questions.

See how some of the top brands are using their Twitter accounts to reach out to the public.

2. You get to control complaints quicker and negative word-of-mouth impacts.

Consumers appreciate a quick reply, even if they’re complaining. The fact that the company took the time and effort to respond personally to the irate client is a major push toward your favor and will likely make him or her less antsy. Nothing hurts your brand more than an unhappy customer who has been suffering from prolonged disappointment by not being able to communicate with you.

Of course, in the interest of privacy, some clients would prefer that their concerns be addressed only to them, instead of as public @replies and @mentions. In this case, the Direct Message is your best tool.

3. You increase your chances of gaining new customers.

Your Twitter profile is not just a question and answer venue, but also a place where you can market and introduce new products. By taking care of client queries, you gain the chance to recommend other items on your service or product menu. In addition, because it is public domain, non-clients will see how well you treat your existing clients and, thereby, potentially boost your conversion rate.

How Customers Use Twitter: An Infographic

A recent study by ZenDesk reveals that although most companies have a Twitter presence, not all are very active in directly engaging with the customers. The diagram below shows the strengths and weaknesses of some of the top retail brands when it comes to their social media efforts.

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