Not long ago, customer service meant waiting for a customer to call or email with a question or problem, and responding appropriately.
That’s still an important part of the job. But for every person who complains, somewhere between 9 and 26 more, depending on which statistics you read, have the same issue and don’t say a peep.
Wouldn’t you love to reach that silent group and handle their questions and problems too? Thanks to technology, you can take a big step in that direction. Here’s how.
Monitor Comments. Start by setting up a Google alert on your company name. You’ll get an email alerting you every time someone mentions it on a website, in a blog, or on a discussion group. You may want to set up Google alerts on your competitors’ names and industry-specific keywords, too.
You’ll also want to monitor what’s being said about your company on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, even if you don’t have a Facebook page or a Twitter account. While customers may not talk directly to you about their questions and problems, they do a lot of talking with each other, and it’s available for all to see.
Respond Effectively. Monitoring what people are saying is only the first step. Naturally, it’s important to respond to complaints. For some tips on best practices, have a look at our article on How to Handle Online Customer Complaints.
To really set yourself apart from the competition, seize opportunities to educate and inform. Stop lurking in the background and join online conversations that relate to your company and products. Respond to positive comments on blogs and discussion groups. Answer questions relating to your area of expertise. Put yourself out there as a company that listens and shares valuable expertise. For more on this topic, see Creating Positive PR in Online Communities.
Use Technology Proactively. Today’s technology provides a wealth of easy, inexpensive ways to educate and inform your customers. Note the types of questions customers are asking, be it planting instructions, caring for plants in the heat, product supplies, pest control, or anything else. Assume that many more customers have the same questions, and get the word out every way you can. Include answers in your enewsletter, blog about them, post solutions on your Facebook page, start a discussion group where customers can share their own advice.
True, this approach takes more resources than sitting by the phone waiting for people to call. But it’s easy to see that reaching many more people and answering their questions before they even ask them will create good will, help customers succeed with your products, and pay for itself many times over.