It’s 2014. No matter what size your business or what product you are selling, there’s no doubt that social and digital media is playing some kind of role in your marketing efforts.

mobile-phone

  1. You definitely have a website (that has hopefully been mobile-optimized).
  2. You probably have a Facebook page (where you are likely posting offers, product information and relevant photos and videos).
  3. And a twitter account (that’s being used to spout out witty information to your potential customer base).
  4. Some of you may even be using Pinterest, Instagram or YouTube.
  5. But how many of you use social media to improve your customer service?

I don’t see a whole lot of hands still up.

There are three simple strategies any business or organization can use to let social media improve your customer service:

  • Listening
  • Responding
  • Rewarding

Listening

As consumers, many of us have turned to social media in rage when our flights are delayed, power goes out, or experience a long delay on a customer service phone line.

The best companies are out there monitoring their media feeds and listening to these rants. They do their best to respond to each and every one.

Most of the time, just knowing that someone is listening and understands your frustration is enough to give any brand a second chance. So, the first rule of using social media for customer service is to make sure you have the right monitoring systems in place.

Some of my favorite, free, off-the-shelf tools include HootSuite and Addict-o-matic. These both allow a user to monitor multiple social channels (including Facebook, Twitter, linked in, blogs, and more) within a single interface, saving you time as well as money.

Responding

Beyond the venting of frustration, consumers also take to social media to report real problems. And share negative experiences (much more so than positive ones).

With your monitoring solution in place, you are now going to hear about all of them. So, when a junior-level employee managing social media comes across a major-level problem, how do they respond quickly and accurately?

The second thing your company should be thinking about when it comes to social media customer service is a crisis management strategy…

  • What responses are appropriate for your social media managers to respond to?
  • Which ones need a more thorough investigation?
  • What types of responses are acceptable and what types are not?

The best companies have thought through how to respond to a variety of customer service issues in advance and have developed organizational consensus on how and when to respond.

Challenge your social media manager to game plan different scenarios ahead of time, and plan out responses. Timeliness is everything on social media, so if it takes you even a full day to respond to a negative issue, your company risks it snowballing into a much bigger problem.

Rewarding

With listening tools and a response strategy in place, now your organization is free to be proactive with customer service through the strategic use of rewards.

Find your brand evangelists on social media:

  • Surprise them by engaging them on social channels with unexpected rewards.
  • Repost their content and thank them for being advocates.
  • Reach out to them with new programs, product samples or event opportunities.

Get to know them by name, and you’ll find they will often be the first ones to come to your defense and tell others how great you are.

Three simple tactics that lead to building solid long-term relationships. The question isn’t should you be using social media for customer service.

It’s why aren’t you?

Jeff Goldscher is a Principal at JK Squared, a strategic marketing consultancy. He previously founded two marketing firms both named to the Inc. 5000 list of fastest growing companies in the US and has developed strategic plans and marketing campaigns for organizations that include the NFL, Microsoft, Comcast and AAA. Follow Jeff or you can read his blog on the intersection of marketing and real life at jksquaredblog.wordpress.com.