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15 Keys to Providing Customer Service Through Social Media

Written by Taylor Hawes

Monday, April 7th, 2014

15 Keys to Providing Customer Service Through Social Media
Social media is great for connecting your business to your customers, and allowing them to have direct close access to you can be a boon for your brand image. However, unfettered access also means that more customers feel free to complain either directly or indirectly about companies through social media. In this media climate, it’s important to leverage your PR skills to positive effect, and here’s how.

 

Respond quickly

Your customer turned to social media to complain because they are looking for an immediate response, and while you may be busy with product development meetings or vendor calls, these seemingly-small, Facebook-born comments should receive similar attention. Make sure that you get back to them as soon as you see the complaint.

 

Have a dedicate twitter account for issues

Social media is all about context, which is why big corporations create accounts specifically for reporting and responding to issues, decluttering their primary social feed and filtering the important messages from the fluff. Nike and Comcast are two examples of companies that have dedicated accounts on twitter for customers experiencing issues for precisely these reasons. If your company is big enough, create a dedicated account where customers can reach you when something has gone amiss.

 

Be responsive around the clock

Know your business well and when your customers will be using your services. If you are a restaurant, for example, you can expect to hear from customers late in to the evening if they have had a bad dinner experience. Monitor your account around the clock as best you can or, better yet, dedicate staff to the task so that you can respond quickly.

 

Address the issue and offer a solution

In your response, be sure to restate the problem so it is clear you understand it, and give your customer a solution if one is available. Communication requires empathy and efficiency, and this approach will achieve both.

 

Offer new information they might not have access to

Airlines can frequently update the customer as to the status of cancelled or delayed flights quickly before that information is disseminated at the gate. Give the customer all the information you have as they might not have access to it. This will also show that you are paying close attention to their particular circumstances.

 

If no solution is available offer empathy

Sometimes no immediate solution is available, but it is important to respond as fast you can. A simple “We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience. That sounds like an awful time/situation/experience. We are working on it and will get back to you soon” can calm an angry customer while you work on a solution.

 

Direct them to resources where answers or solutions may be found

When you can’t provide the solution over social media, let them know where they can go to receive resolution, be it an email address they need to contact or a store manager they need to talk to directly. Keep in mind that social media channels aren’t the most appropriate avenue for obtaining things like account numbers or private information, so be sure to direct them to someone offline that can help them.

 

Be aware of your twitter account and follow your tags and hashtags

Someone on your staff needs to have alerts set for any tags or hashtags customers might

utilize to try and reach you. Pay attention to them, particularly if you intend to use them for support purposes.

 

Answer all of the questions asked (not just the easy one)

When writing your response go back and look at the original complaint. It may be easy to address just one issue but they may have had several questions or concerns. Address each and every one, clearly and effectively.

 

Rectify what you can

Make the situation right as fast as you can. You can’t fix every aspect of their problem but whatever issue you can fix, do so quickly. Remedying even a portion of the customer’s problem will be seen as progress and improve your image as a result.

 

Follow through with the issue

Chances are you won’t solve the problem on the first go around so go back and check in with your customer. Did they get a new flight? Was the broken item replaced? Etc etc. Follow up with the customer and demonstrate compassion, empathy, and dedication to their needs in the process. Do not wait to be asked for additional assistance!

 

Show customer appreciation

Proactively reach out to customers who are mentioning your company in a positive way. If someone takes a picture at your business and tags you, repost/retweet it! If you get a positive review on Facebook contact the customer and say thank you. These small actions will show that you are listening, potentially turning one time reviewers into brand evangelists.

 

Provide a real world solution

The coffee was cold? Offer to replace their cup free of charge. Car wasn’t repaired properly? Have them bring it back in. If it was a tangible problem offer a tangible solution, and remember that generosity is remembered, blogged about, rewarded, and retweeted.

 

Don’t remove complaints

It can be tempting to remove a complaint after you have addressed the concern, but leaving them alone should be standard practice for your business. Make sure that your responses and solutions are in the comments section or your direct reply to the tweet. New customers will see the complaint but also see that you were responsive and accommodating to customer needs.

 

Be professional

Above all reply and act in a professional manner. Your customer might be rude or upset but it is your job to maintain your calm and mitigate the situation as fast as you can. Remember: a crabby customer is an issue, but a positive response is an asset, and your customers will notice that.

In an age of ubiquitous social media, communication comes from many inboxes. Tend to your Twitter and Facebook accounts and exercise professionalism, and your wall will become a testament to your dedication to your customers.

Ways to Ensure That Your Mailing List is a Legitimate One

Written by Brandi Bennett

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

 

mailing_list

Email marketing is big. It’s no secret. Email marketing is one of the best ways to not only ensure that your brand and your products or services stay fresh within the minds of your clients, it allows you to catch their attention, appealing to the impulse buy side of your clientele.
 

Leverage Existing Relationships

(Legitimate Ones)

If an individual sees your product or service in their email and thinks that what you are offering is a great deal they may simply click through the email to purchase it, as they already have a relationship with your company, without feeling the need to do any form of price comparison or the like. It’s easy for people to get caught up in the moment, wanting to get their products and services out to as many people as humanly possible, regardless of whether or not the person has technically asked for that email from you. There’s just one problem with this. That type of behavior is illegal; an internet no-no.

“But I just found this list of people’s email addresses! It’s obvious that they wouldn’t have left it lying about if they didn’t want others to use it” you might proclaim. Or you might have decided to purchase a mailing list, share email addresses with your buddy who has an email list as well, or simply have pulled email addresses off of Craig’s list or some other site where such information is freely posted. You might justify it to yourself in a thousand and one different ways, but the fact of the matter is that the justification doesn’t count, not when it goes against the CAN-SPAM act, your hosting provider’s terms of service and acceptable use policies, and their upstream providers terms of service and acceptable use policies.
 

The Low Down:

In order for your mailing list to be a legitimate one, in order for your messages to not be considered spam, and to ensure that you are able to stay with your hosting provider, there are several things that you cannot do.

You cannot:

  • Use a purchased mailing list
  • Use a mailing list that was given to you
  • Use a mailing list that you found somewhere (sorry, that email address you found in the back of the taxi can’t be just tacked on to the end of your list, gotta throw that one out!)
  • Randomly generate email addresses and send out messages to all of them, hoping one goes through to a legitimate email address.

“Well, that seems like a lot that I can’t do,” you might think to yourself, and the truth is, you’re right. You cannot do anything that gets around the idea of not getting someone’s permission to email them. So what can you do, not only to make sure that your mailing list is legitimate, but that it’s CAN-SPAM compliant?
 

The Double Opt In:

Make sure that you get everyone’s permission to email them, not once, but twice. This process is referred to as double opt in, and it means that not only does someone have to give you their email address, but you then have to ask them if they really meant to give it to you, and they have to say yes before you can start including them on your mailing list. The process usually goes something like this:

  1. A person puts in an email address on your site, indicating that they want to receive email from you. The reason this isn’t enough is that you have no way of knowing whether the person entering the email address is the one that owns the email address.
  2. You receive their form with their email address listed. You’re excited! You want to add them to your list, but you just can’t yet. First you have to send them an email, typically with a link that will write to a database stating the date and time that they accepted (this is the second time they are accepting).
  3. They will click on the link, writing the information to the database (you want to retain this information in case you later get reported as spam, thus proving your legit status and ensuring that you don’t get in trouble).
  4. You will add them to your mailing list and can email them every time you send out the mailing list.

 

The Rest Of The Story:

Keep in mind that there are other laws, rules and regulations that you may need to adhere to, such as  the fact that all individuals requesting access to adult content, if that’s what you’re offering, must be over eighteen, but it’s your responsibility to determine whether what you are sending needs those additional features. You can read about the guidelines at the FTC’s site here: http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/business/ecommerce/bus61.shtm

Remember, if you receive a complaint from your hosting provider about your mailing list, they’re not only working to make sure that you are in compliance with the rules, but that they are as well. They don’t want to get in trouble either for violating Federal law, so don’t take it personally, just remember that you’ve got to keep your mailing list legit; once it’s there, it’s smooth sailing for both of you.
 

Image Source: Dartmouth. (2014). Mailing List. [image online] Available at: http://www.dartmouth.edu/~tucker/images/mailing-list.jpg [Accessed: 25 Mar 2014].

5 Facebook Updates You Need To Know About

Written by Taylor Hawes

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

Facebook Builds a Better Megaphone

Hate it or love it, Facebook is still one of the most effective platforms for social media marketing. As we’re all aware, they like to update things A LOT. Sometimes it’s the way it looks; for instance, they’re currently advertising a simpler layout with a bigger focus on posts appearing in the news feed. Other times they’ll add entirely new options on how to market the things you post.

If you use Facebook to manage a business page, advertise events, or even just to garner some recognition for your craft, here are five recent updates you’ll find beneficial.

 

1. Objective Based Ads

This is one of two big steps Facebook has taken in the last six months in trying to adhere to objectives of advertisers on Facebook. This change is said to have taken place for the purpose of focusing on the impact of advertisements rather than the type. Based on conversations Facebook staff had with “marketers of all types” they’ve come up with 8 objectives advertisers can choose from to meet their goals:

  • Website Conversions

  • Page Post Engagement

  • Page Likes

  • App Installs

  • App Engagement

  • In-store Offer Claims

  • Clicks To Website

  • & Event Responses

 

After the user chooses the objectives and creates the ad, Facebook will place the ads where they’ll create the best impact. You can now see under the ads manager the results of your post based on the selected objectives. With a much simpler approach to getting your ads seen, you can focus on the content and what viewers are enjoying most.

 

2. Facebook Insights

The new update to page insights makes tracking the performance of your Facebook page more ‘insightful’ than ever. Long-valued by strategic marketers, the data collected will support your goals when tracking the performance of ads and posts. Facebook has updated the web version of Insights that are presented in easy to navigate graphs that can be adjusted and customized to your preferences.

Some new features include:

  • Advanced filtering – Filter by Total Reach, Organic vs. Paid and Fans vs. Non-Fans.

  • Best post types – Quickly determine which of your post types generate the highest reach and average engagement.

  • When your fans are online – Incredibly useful for determining when to post, see things like:

    • Number of fans that were online each day of the past week

    • Average number of your fans who saw any posts per hour

  • Benchmarking – Compare the performance of your page between time periods.

 

3. Auto-Play Videos In The News Feed

It may be a lesser known fact, but videos aren’t nearly as engaged with as photos and status updates. That said, Facebook felt it was a good idea to have a way for users to engage with videos more often by catching the glimpse of it playing without sound. Straight from an article on Facebook’s business blog, “Compelling sight, sound and motion are often integral components of great marketing campaigns, particularly when brands want to increase awareness and attention over a short period of time”.

While this may seem appealing to some (marketers especially), there has been a significant backlash from many of its users. Complaints like their load time slowing, distracting, unwanted, etc. Like other features people would rather not see, you can block this functionality for more distraction-free browsing.

 

4. Edit Your Posts That Have Already Been Published

Have you ever posted something, only to notice a few hours later thatthere was a typo? While it is possible to delete these posts, sometimes it has already been paid for as an advertisement, or has received too much attention to make replacement an attractive prospect. For quite some time now, Facebook users have been requesting the ability to edit their posts, and now that option is here.

For posts appearing on your personal profile you have the option to edit captions for photos and status updates that are strictly text. For business page administrators, the editing capability is still only limited to photo captions while Facebook tests the ability to edit posts as well.

 

5. Improvements To The News Feed Ranking (They’ve Made It Smarter)

Like many other tech giants, Facebook has revamped their algorithms to make a more personalized stream of posts based on the individual user. Impressively, what posts appear are based of over 100,000 weighing factors, things like:

  • Relationship Settings – Things like labeling friends as “close friend”, or “acquaintance”

  • Post Types – Users that interact more often with photo posts are more likely to see more photos.

  • Hiding Posts/Spam – Recent hides may be carrying weight as to whether a post shows in the news feed

 

While those are just a few, it is clear that the challenge of making engaging and visible posts has become more difficult. The company’s advice is is to create and advertise a variety of interesting content that will attract clicks, shares, likes and comments. The best way to do this is by understanding your fans, and what they want to see.

Infographic: The Digital Renaissance

Written by Sean Valant

Monday, March 31st, 2014

Are we in the midst of a new type of renaissance, a digital renaissance?  Given not only the sheer availability of information, but also the ability to immediately share new thoughts with a wide audience, things do seem ripe for the evolution of ideas in ways never before possible.  The following infographic addresses this, comparing the present day to the renaissance of the 14th century:
 

the-digital-renaissance-infographic

 

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