Are We Engaged or Are You Just Tweeting Me
There was a quote pinned over the staff room bulletin board in the very first restaurant I worked in:
Customers are not an interruption to our work, they are the purpose of our work.
If you’re in business, you’re in the service business.
Whether you’re selling computer chips or fish ‘n chips, you’re selling to people and people are buying from you; not your logo.
Social media has made this all the more true and that scares companies a lot.
The melding of social media and business into “social business” is a tough concept for many to get their heads around. So they call up the guys that did their website a few years ago and request a Facebook page and maybe a Twitter account.
No strategy, no plan, no content.
Consequently the Facebook page is a digital mirror of their print advertising and their tweets are a string of 50% off specials and contact information.
More lip service has been rendered to customer service than Melanie Griffith could ever dream of. Until the advent of social media, we just had to grin and bear it.
Now we grin (or frown) and tweet it, or Facebook it or plus it.
As a business owner, you want people spreading smiles about you.
Here are 5 ways to “wow” your customers:
1. Be Ready
First. Before you post your Facebook update or tweet another self-serving post, be sure that your business is ready for prime time.
How much priority is given to customer service? Unless it’s on the top of your mission, hold off social media until it is.
Meeting client’s expectations isn’t enough; that’s a given. If you “WOW” your clients, they will amplify that on their social network.
- If your service sucks; social media will just make it suck louder.
2. Be friendly.
Seems obvious, right. Think about the last time you were ignored at a store, or put on hold or treated like “they” were doing you a favour.
- If you want to go social – be social.
Hire friendly people. Even better, hire people who already engage on social networks. You get to see how they interact and they will be ambassadors for your brand.
3. Be available.
Being social isn’t a 9-5 job. If you can’t be available 24/7, then make sure you’re accessible in other ways such as being on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ or email.
People will understand that there will be a response delay “after hours” on any of these platforms except perhaps Twitter which has an expected response time of a couple of hours max.
Avoid automated responses. Interact personally as much as possible.
4. Be Helpful
Being truly service focused isn’t easy. It would be much simpler if customers empathized with how hard it is to come up with a staff schedule, or how important “doing inventory” is.
But they don’t.
Are you giving them a discount because you’re busy? – Didn’t think so.
Another tip comes from the movie classic Miracle on 34th Street.
Do what Macy’s did. If you don’t have what they’re looking for, send them to your competitor. You’ve solved their problem and gained their trust.
5. Be proactive
Anticipate their needs then exceed them.
If you’re running a hotel, that could be having a list of museums ready upon an art enthusiast’s arrival, or researching blogs in a client’s industry to help him build his networking community.
People will happily share news of outstanding service with their friends. Unfortunately, they’re more likely to share disappointing experiences even more.
As a business, your goal is not only to outshine, but out serve the competition – in house and online.
I’ll tweet to that!
(This post was inspired by Jeffrey Gitomer’s Caffeine Jolt #543)
About Ray Hiltz
Ray Hiltz is a Social Media Strategist with management roots in restaurant, hotel and performing arts. A strong proponent for the power of collaborative communication and "humanized" digital networking, Ray writes about social media, social business and Google Plus. His clients include hotels, restaurants, consulting firms, entrepreneurs, writers and individuals just trying to make sense of "social". Ray is a popular speaker on Social Media, Social Business and Google+.