By David Bakke Considering the fragile state of the American economy, many consumers have cut back on personal spending. What this means for you as a business owner is that there is a smaller pool of available dollars. Therefore, with competition sure to increase among similar businesses, it is more important than ever to improve customer service at your operation--and better utilizing social media is a great way to do so. It's an effective way to market your business and keep your existing customers happy.
Here are five ways you can enhance customer service via social media:
1. Accept Orders via Facebook
With more than one billion users, Facebook is a key component of communication and commerce. By allowing your customers to place orders via the social media giant, you can reap the rewards; it's convenient for your customers, and a great way to greatly increase sales. Implement social media shopping widgets, like Ecwid.
2. Take Appointments and Reservations on Twitter
If your customers no longer have to pick up the phone to make an appointment or place an order, then they will be much more gracious and appreciative--and more eager to do business with you. Make sure to assign someone to monitor your Twitter account on a timely basis so that all requests are responded to promptly.
3. Educate Customers via Pinterest
Your customers not only want to be served by your business, they also want to be educated. Pinterest is the perfect platform to do so. For instance, if you run a grocery store, you could post pictures of recipes (made with your store's ingredients) along with a quick tutorial of how to prepare the dish. Or if you run a hardware store, post pictures along with "how to" guides for simple DIY home repairs.
4. Use Social Media for Customer Service Complaints
It's likely that your customers are already using your social media platforms to lodge complaints. No complaint should go ignored, and you want to make sure that your customers' needs are exceeded in these situations. The purpose is three-fold: Your customers will see that they no longer need to pick up the phone if they have a question or concern, you'll usually satisfy them in a shorter period of time, and, most important, potential customers will see that your business is truly empathetic to its customers' needs. It's important to do this properly, as your interactions will be out there for all your viewers to see.
5. Institute an Online Chat Function on Your Website
People don't want to pick up the phone if they don't have to, and a great way to better serve your customers is through online chat which can be accomplished via Facebook or Twitter. Institute appropriate hours of operation so a staff member won't be on call 24/7, and clearly outline these hours. In addition to answering questions and complaints, you can also use online chats to up-sell your clients with products or services they might need.
As technology continually improves, leverage the advancements in your business operations. You can make many aspects of your business more convenient for your customers and improve your brand.
What ways do you think social media can be used to improve customer service?
David Bakke is a contributor for Money Crashers Personal Finance, where he writes tips for money savings and technology and helps manage social media promotions.