The communication game has changed greatly in the last decade, and businesses have been faced with a choice of adapting or appearing obsolete. With the rise of social media, customers no longer have to pick up the phone or drive to a store to ask a question or register a complaint. As a business owner, you have an opportunity to engage your clients in a two-way conversation that could help form the basis for a lasting partnership. Here are some tips to ensure an effective dialogue with your patrons.
Don’t Be Overly Familiar
While you want to forge a relationship with your customers, it’s important to maintain a level of professionalism in your communications. A sense of humor is good, but don’t speak to your clients as if they were your best friends from college. There are some exceptions to this rule if you’re building an identity for your company to serve a younger demographic, but know your audience before making this decision. You probably wouldn’t feel confident entrusting your money to an accountant who communicates in internet slang or text speak.
Provide Fast Responses
One of the great things about social media is the ability to communicate instantly, but that comes with a responsibility. In today’s fast-paced world, a customer isn’t likely to hang around waiting for an answer to a pressing question, so you might want to hire someone to handle your social networking. While it’s acceptable to tell a client you might need extra time to provide an appropriate answer to a tough query, make sure you say it in your message.
Be Careful With Arguments
There are times when a customer might have unreasonable expectations or is simply looking for a fight, and it’s crucial to handle these incidents tactfully. Things said during a heated argument can come back to haunt you forever, as screenshots can memorialize an exchange before it can be deleted. If you sense the discourse moving into dangerous territory, try to move the conversation off of your page via phone calls or email.
Don’t Rely Entirely on Software
You might have a lot invested in customer service software or customer support software, but you should use this information carefully in a social media situation. If a client feels as though you’re simply reading from an order history, you could come across as uninterested in their issue.
Know When to Hit the Panic Button
It’s easy to have your social media manager assuage a few unsatisfied customers, but if you start noticing major problems, it might be time to turn communications over to your CEO or an outside crisis management firm. Have a plan in place to deal with crises, and execute it when you feel the timing is right. Significant situations can take many forms:
- Technical glitches such as server outages
- Widespread safety issues, product defects or malfunctions
- Inappropriate public communication from a member of your staff
Be a Real Person
It’s easy to get angry at what seems like a faceless company, so do what you can to humanize your communications. Maintain a level of professionalism, but don’t speak as if you’re a robotic answer generator. It all comes down to treating people the same way you’d like to be treated.