6 Ways to Win at Social Customer Service

Social customer service is on the rise, and customers are increasingly turning to Facebook, Twitter, and other major social networks to make brand inquiries and complaints. While it may seem like extra work to have to manage yet another customer service channel, social media actually provides a unique opportunity for small businesses. When handled well, social customer service can boost your brand’s reputation, visibility, and engagement. The flip side is that when handled poorly, it can do a lot of damage to your image.

These 6 tips will help you use social customer service to benefit both your customers and your brand.

1. Respond Quickly

Research has shown that users who submit a customer service request on social expect an answer in real time—preferably within the hour the request is made. While you probably don’t have the bandwidth to follow up with customers hourly, you should monitor your social channels daily so that you can respond within 24 hours. A longer delay, and sentiment about your business will quickly decline.

2. Tag Users in Your Replies

Most social networks will trigger an email or in-app notification when a user is tagged in a post, so make sure to tag the customer in your reply to ensure that he or she sees it.

3. Provide a Resolution in-Network

If a customer asks you a question via Twitter, don’t tell them to call your store for an answer. If someone complains about a product on Facebook, don’t send them an email. Follow up with the customer on the channel where they originally inquired. Not only will it be a more coherent experience for the customer, but it will also allow other users of the network see the resolution play out—and positive resolutions can have a big impact on other consumers’ perceptions of your brand.

4. Be Specific

A generic cut-and-paste of an answer from your FAQ page isn’t enough to satisfy an online inquiry. Users expect a specific answer that takes their personal situation into account. Additionally, when you respond to a customer service inquiry on social, make sure that you’re specific about who you are, too. Reinforcing that you’re a real person being will humanize the experience and lend specificity to your conversation.

5. Show Some Love

As with any other customer service channel, make sure your replies are personal, sympathetic, and focused on solving the problem as efficiently as possible. Be genuine and helpful, and your audience will sense it—both the customer you’re helping and the spectators who are passively watching your interaction.

6. Listen up

Even if you aren’t receiving many active customer service requests, you can learn a lot just by listening to what people are saying about your business online. You can do this manually by looking at mentions on each social network, or by using a social listening tool to monitor feedback about your brand across channels. Listening to the online commentary about your business will provide valuable insights that can help you optimize your customer service and offerings without having to create a formal user survey.

The Bottom Line

Don’t think of social customer service as a headache—think of it as an opportunity. By providing your customers with timely, specific, useful feedback where they’re asking for help, you’ll show your social audience that customers matter to you. This is the type of brand reputation-boost that you can’t get from tooting your own horn. Let your actions convey your brand’s values, and you’ll start to build up a loyal consumer base on social over time.

Learn more about how SinglePlatform can help you today!

7 Key Customers for Restaurant Owners

There are seven key customer types that have their own habits and preferences when it comes to dining. It is important to understand these customer types in order to best serve your existing and new customers. The types consist of Health Enthusiast, Functional Eaters, Foodservice Hobbyists, Affluent Socializers, Bargain Hunters, Busy Balancers, and Habitual Matures. If you know your target audience, it will assist in acquiring new busines

It is key for business owners to be able to define their target audience and the consumer types that drive revenue to their restaurant. All of these consumer types create opportunities for businesses to succeed and continue to grow.

Content created by Jenn Oskowsky and Eric Mainthow.

How to Deliver Great In-Person Customer Service

In some ways, in-person customer service is the easiest kind. You can read someone’s emotions and responses much better face-to-face, and you’ll likely be able to solve the person’s problem then and there, rather than having to promise a forthcoming fix. It can also be the most challenging channel because you have no buffer between you and a potentially upset customer.
These 5 easy-to-implement tips will help you bring your A-game when it comes to in-person customer service.

1. Proactively Offer Assistance

If a customer looks confused, aimless, or in need of help, don’t wait for them to flag you down. Offering assistance proactively will make a positive impression on the customer.

2. Smile.

It’s a simple thing to remember, but it really does make a difference. Set a positive tone before you even say a word by giving the customer a smile. Sometimes, a friendly sign is all the impetus a customer needs to engage with you; if they never see it, they might just walk out of your store without making a purchase.

3. Watch Your Body Language.

When faced with a crabby patron, it’s easy to let one’s body language become defensive, even if your tone and words don’t. Crossed arms, head shaking, forceful hand gestures, or toe tapping won’t endear you to the customer any more than it would endear you to an angry spouse or friend. Be conscious of your actions as well as your tone and words.

4. Stay Focused.

In an in-person setting, it’s easy to be distracted by other patrons, employees, ringing phones, etc. Make an effort to focus your full attention on the person you’re helping when you’re helping them, regardless of who else might need your help or what else is going on in your surroundings.

5. Offer Something Extra.

An in-store setting makes it easy to offer a little something extra. A free product, extra service, or discount can be a great way to add value for the customer and secure their good opinion of your business.

The Bottom Line

In-person customer service is the most personal kind. Be proactive, friendly, and attentive, and you’ll be able to turn even the most aggrieved customers into loyal fans of your business.

5 Customer Service Phone Mistakes You Might Be Making

Fielding customer service phone calls is a part of most small business’s daily routine. While these calls are commonplace, a basic inquiry or complaint can quickly spiral out of control if not handled appropriately by you or your staff.
These 5 mistakes can have a negative impact on your customers’ perception of your business. Are you or your employees making any of them? If so, now’s the time to make some positive changes to your approach.

Mistake #1: Long Wait Times

Not picking up the phone until the 15th ring, putting a caller on hold for 5 minutes, or asking someone to hold repeatedly during a call are all sure-fire ways to annoy a customer. When a support call comes in, take it promptly, and avoid putting the person on hold unless absolutely necessary.

Mistake #2: Unenthusiastic or Negative Tone

Tone has a huge impact on the outcome of a customer service call. If the customer senses a lack of enthusiasm, boredom, or hostility from the person on the other end of the line, they won’t feel valued—and they might be tempted to take their business elsewhere, even if their complaint is successfully resolved. If you bring energy and positivity to every call, you’ll be more likely to calm angry patrons and solve problems quickly.

Mistake #3: Multi-Tasking

Just as people can sense a lack of enthusiasm over the phone, they can also sense when you’re not giving them your full attention. It’s not worth the risk of angering a customer just to save a couple minutes by multi-tasking. Give the person on the phone your full attention—they deserve it!

Mistake #4: Not Mirroring the Customer

Unhappy customers can sometimes blow problems out of proportion. However, just because a problem might not seem like a big deal to you doesn’t mean that you should take the situation lightly. Mirroring the customer’s concern for the situation, and reflecting their words back to them so they know you’re hearing what they’re saying, is an important tactic. It reinforces that you’re on the same side and sympathize with their plight.

Mistake #5: Lack of Appreciation

Even if a customer is angry, aggressive, and generally ungrateful for your assistance, that doesn’t give you an excuse to treat them with the same lack of appreciation. Make sure the customer knows that you’re thankful for their business before the call ends.

The Bottom Line

Customers want what anyone would want on a phone call: a quick response time, a friendly person who listens closely and sympathizes with their concerns, and a thank you that makes them feel important. A thoughtful approach to phone customer service can help your team achieve all of these goals.

Customer Service: 6 Tips for Small Businesses

In this era of endless options, customer service truly has the power to make or break a small business. If your customer service is great, you’ll be more likely to retain customers and garner brand loyalty. If your customer service is lacking, people will likely take their time and money elsewhere. Great products and services may attract new customers, but great customer service is what motivates people to keep choosing to do business with you.
These 6 tips will help ensure that your customer service is the best it can be.

1. Be Proactive

Don’t wait for customers to come to you with questions or complaints. If you can offer assistance up front, or identify and fix a problem before the customer complains, you’ll be saving you and your patron valuable time. Not only that, you’ll be fostering a positive relationship that lets the customer know you’re paying attention and eager to help. 

2. Respond Promptly

Whether an inquiry comes in via phone, social media, email, an in-store visit, or some other channel, it’s essential to respond in a timely fashion. No one likes to be stuck on hold for ten minutes or wait a week to hear back via email. Even if you can’t resolve the customer’s issue immediately, getting in touch to let the person know that you’re working on a resolution is vital.

3. Listen up

If you receive the same kinds of complaints and questions on a regular basis, it’s easy to stop listening carefully when customers contact you. Keep in mind that, while customers may be reaching out about a specific issue, they’re not just contacting you for an answer. They also want reassurance that you care about them as an individual and value their business. Make sure to give each patron your full attention.

4. Make It Personal

One of the benefits of technology is that we can use it not just to capture information, but to learn more about the people we interact with. Again, when a customer calls in with a problem, they don’t just want the problem solved—they want to be known and appreciated. Using data such as name, purchase history, personal preferences, and last in-store visit can change an ordinary customer service interaction into an experience that will secure someone’s loyalty for life.

5. Keep It Courteous

Certain customers seem to go out of their way to be difficult and demanding, regardless of the experience they’ve had with your business. When someone is being confrontational or downright rude, it’s tempting to respond in a similar fashion. We all know how that tends to go down: Not well. Resist the temptation to sink to the customer’s level and remain courteous and helpful at all times, even when doing so is a challenge. 

6. Go the Extra Mile

When a customer talks to a customer service representative, they expect to have their issue resolved in a timely fashion. Go beyond the expected and give your customers something they didn’t anticipate, whether it’s a free drink on the house, a gift card, a complimentary warrantee extension, an off-hours service visit, or something else. Be generous with your customers, and they will be generous with you in return.

The Bottom Line

What separates good customer service from excellent customer service is response time, attention to detail, and generosity. With a little extra effort, you can make a big impact on your customers and their loyalty to your business.

Treat Your Customers Like People – 4 Tips for Personalization

Offering discounts, rewards, and other special perks has long been a standard marketing tactic to drive new business. But generic offers aren’t as effective as they once were.
According to a Gallup poll administered earlier this year, customers are increasingly underwhelmed—and even annoyed—by generic promotions. 66% of respondents said that offers were too general, 41% were irritated by unwanted offers, and 53% received offers for a product they already used.

The fact is, consumers are being bombarded by so many communications from so many businesses that it’s easy for them to tune out. Luckily, there’s a way to create more meaningful interactions that will get your audience to pay attention—a little personalization is all it takes.

Here are 4 simple ways you can start using personalization to benefit your customers and your business.

1. Personalized Interactions

Making your interactions personal can be as simple as using a customer’s name in an email or while checking out. A more sophisticated kind of personalized interaction might entail using a customer’s previous purchase history or requests to make recommendations during their next transaction or reservation.

2. Personalized Offers

Coupons and discounts are great—but not if they’re for a product or service a customer will never use. Use your customers’ previous purchase history or an online survey to assess what individual customers are interested in. Then you can be sure to create offers that people will be excited to take advantage of.

3. Personalized Loyalty Rewards

Just as with offers, loyalty rewards can be tailored to the interests and needs of specific customers. If someone is buying a latte from your café every day, give them a free latte after their tenth purchase. If someone is buying school shoes for their kids, give a discount on children’s sports shoes. If you don’t have the technology in place to track specific customers’ buying behaviors, surveys are a great way to find out what would be valuable to your audience. You can even ask for some quick feedback during checkout.

4. Personalized Follow-ups

A personalized interaction, either face-to-face or online, will make a great impression with a customer. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to follow up and keep the conversation going. Follow-ups can range from an exit survey after a transaction, a personalized request to follow your social media channels or sign up for your email newsletter, or a simple thank you for visiting your establishment.

The Bottom Line

Personalizing your communications, services, and offers will make customers feel that they individually matter. If customers feel that you care about them for who they are as opposed to what they buy, they will be more motivated to care about your business in return.

4 Ways to Encourage Mobile Check-ins at Your Business

Getting people to check-in at your business on Foursquare, Facebook, and other location apps is a great way to get free exposure on social channels. But although local check-ins require very little effort, some customers require additional motivation to pull out their smartphones.
Here are 4 easy ways to encourage mobile check-ins:

1. Post Reminders

Sometimes, a simple reminder is all that’s required. Strategically place signs around your establishment with check-in information; you can even use QR codes to take visitors right to a specific check-in screen.

2. Plan a Unique Giveaway

If a simple reminder isn’t enough to spur customers to action, a unique incentive often can be. Reward check-ins with a free item, upgraded service, or other perk to get your visitors excited about sharing on social.

3. Offer Special Discounts

A one-time giveaway can encourage initial check-ins, but ongoing benefits will keep your visitors engaged long-term. A more structured loyalty program for customers who check in on a regular basis can also help boost your social buzz.

4. Use Check-ins for Charity

Not all incentives need to be in service of personal gain. Partnering with a charity can have a positive impact on your company’s reputation and also help spread the word about your business. You can donate a fixed amount per check-in, or offer your products or services to a charity for free. Customers will feel good about helping you serve the community—and you’ll feel good about the extra social media exposure.

The Bottom Line

Check-ins are an easy way to increase brand awareness and foster loyalty from your customers. With a few simple motivators, your customers will go from lukewarm to fired-up about checking in at your business.