icesugarmedia customer serviceSocial media and customer service can be turned into a win/win situation for companies and customers alike, but only if businesses embrace the model and interact with customers effectively.

When approached in the right way, customer service through social media can lead to increased loyalty, brand advocacy as well as publicly addressing customer dissatisfaction almost immediately.

Some businesses may shy away from social media for the precise reason that they do not want customers to be able to contact them any time, anywhere and in front of everyone.

However, this is ultimately a losing proposition because there will always be competition willing to engage those customers ignored by businesses that lack social media savvy.

Communicating with Customers Effectively

The first step in understanding the role of social media in customer service is realizing that social media can function in two different ways. It can interact with customers in a way that makes them feel more engaged with the company, and it can address specific customers problems and complaints in a timely and public fashion.

Many studies show that real and tangible benefits to this aspect of successful digital marketing campaigns, result in a more loyal customer base. Your customers will be your biggest brand ambassadors.

Customers who regularly offer other customers product support information on a forum, “chat” with a business via Twitter or receive and respond to regular updates in their Facebook news feed, begin to feel more invested in the company.

Using Social Media to keep your Customers

The result is customers who are less likely to turn to competitors even when there are price discrepancies. Furthermore, loyal customers will recommend a business to others, become your brand advocates and with social media, it can have a viral effect in the form of far-reaching and higher social media visibility, like re-tweets.

Addressing customer complaints promptly, effectively and publicly can pay off handsomely for a company. Many online review sites offer businesses the opportunity to respond to customer reviews. A poor review can actually turn into an opportunity for the savvy business.

The best tactic is to respond promptly and without defensiveness. In extraordinary circumstances, an explanation might be offered, but it’s important to ensure this doesn’t come across as making excuses.

A business owner can then offer the unhappy customer some form of compensation or contact information. Firstly, there is an opportunity to bring back the original unhappy customer.

Secondly, other potential customers have the opportunity to see how the business responds to customer complaints.

Build a lasting relationship with your Customers

Responding promptly to customer concerns and engaging through a preferred social media channel, is a sure way to build and consolidate your businesses reputation and enhance the brand. Most people don’t expect a company to be perfect but to have a system of dealing with things going wrong, and a competent response does just this.

Another way of using social media to deal with customers complaints is by monitoring not just social media accounts but blogs and other mentions online for indications of people unhappy with the company. Complaints addressed directly to company social media accounts should be responded to as soon as possible.

Ideally, the response should be solution-oriented as opposed to simply advising the unhappy customer to contact a customer care number.

Some businesses shy away from social media believing that increased contact with customers will lead to more problematic interactions.

In fact, a good social media strategy includes opportunities to re-engage even disgruntled customers to a greater degree than has been possible in the past.

What innovative ways do you engage with your customers socially and how does this enhance your brand?