In a piece for Forbes.com on how businesses can tap into the exploding market of social media as part of their customer service function – thereby enabling businesses “to leverage social media for customer acquisition and retention” – Anand Subramaniam, vice-president of marketing at customer service firm eGain, advocates taking an “anti-social” approach to social media, carefully testing the waters before diving in head-first.
Mr. Subramaniam notes that [p]roviding good customer service to the social consumer is emerging as a critical factor to achieving [customer acquisition and retention] since social media is a natural venue for customers to air their grievances.” To provide good customer service through social media, he suggests considering the following five points as a means of dipping one’s toe into what is likely unfamiliar waters for most businesses:
- Is there a need to go social? Social media is best suited to simple customer service questions, rather than complex issues irrelevant to most users.
- What venue is best suited for your product and company? Simple products and services may be suited for popular networks like Facebook and Twitter, while more complex products and services may best be addressed through moderated Q&A forums.
- Which social media users should be targeted? Focus on the minority of high-priority customers who are likely to be influential on other social media users.
- Are you prepared to respond to the high velocity of social media? The pace of social media can be overwhelming to a business that enters into it impulsively and without adequate response capacity. Social media can enhance – or damage – a brand exponentially faster than traditional media. Your company should be ready for opportunities, or problems, that go viral.
- Are you familiar with the selected social media venues? Businesses which are social media ‘newbies’ should monitor the social networks they are considering entering in order to identify opportunities that are available and any issues they may need to defuse. Mr. Subramaniam notes that “social customer service can enhance customer experience and brand loyalty.” “However,” he warns, “an ‘anti-social’ wet-foot-first approach rather than an ‘ultra-social’ jump-headlong approach will increase the odds of success.”