In Social Media We Trust

10 May

Turns out we’re not the only ones hyping the internet these days. Even a little, tiny publication like Forbes Magazine is talking about how important the web is to small businesses.

Social media is no longer just a clever marketing tool: It’s also a fast-growing channel for customer service. Over half of consumers now use social media to directly reach out to companies to report satisfaction, lodge complaints, and ask questions, says Nielsen’s 2012 Social Media Report. And one in three social media users now prefer social care to contacting a company by phone. Small businesses should move beyond marketing, and find ways to use social media to increase customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Forbes

Listen to Forbes, dogg. (source: unsimilar.com)

Way to rip off my ideas, guys!

I know what you’re thinking: sure they say all that stuff, but is Forbes really a trustworthy name? The answer is no… Trusty J. Honestman is an trustworthy name. Unfortunately, I just made that name up. But luckily, Forbes isn’t the only name you have to trust on this –  you probably noticed in the previous paragraph that Forbes is reporting on a survey by the Nielsen Company. You’ve likely heard of Nielsen from their TV ratings system, and I say if you can’t trust the people who keep Two and a Half Men on the air, who can you trust?

Trusty Old Man

Trusty J. Honestman, Esq. (source: illinoisgenweb.org)

Forbes also has some tips on how you can improve your service through social media.

Respond Quickly

Small businesses should understand the growing expectation among social media users for a rapid response to their social media interactions. Over half of Twitter users expect a response within two hours of tweeting about a customer service issue, while 51% of Facebook users expect a 24-hour response, according to a 2012 Oracle report.

That “meep meep” you just heard was your competitors zooming past you to respond to complaints, like zippy Roadrunner. Meanwhile, like poor ol’ Coyote, you’re still ordering dynamite out of a catalog (or something). Your company might not have the resources to monitor Twitter/Facebook 24 hours a day, but even a small social media presence can help expedite your service.

Wile E. Coyote

Don’t be him. (source: theawesomer.com)

Be proactive

If you have a known service issue, don’t wait for the complaints to roll in. Be proactive in letting customers know what happened – and how you plan to fix it. For small businesses, a widely broadcast social media message will also save time and resources in answering individual questions and complaints during a crisis.

The great thing about social media is its accessibility. Hopefully your business always hums along without any disruption. But if something does force you to close up for a day or two, there’s no way you’re going to be able to call every customer. You can, however, very easily whip up 140 characters for a tweet and something a little longer for a Facebook post or e-blast to minimize communication issues.

Dedicate Resources

Don’t treat customer service as a marketing responsibility. While marketers typically focus on pushing out information, it’s important to dedicate resources to listening and responding to what customers have to say. Set expectations by letting customers know when you will have someone online to answer questions.

This idea is more universal than social media – you can apply it to your in-person sales, and even the way you work with your employees. Listening is incredibly simple, but so easy to overlook. The best way to solve a problem is to avoid it in the first place, and a lot of problems can be anticipated through gathering information from everyone who has any part in your business. Social media is simply one part of a healthy business – just like a good product, or making sure your technology is up to date.

If you don’t think I’m telling the truth, just pretend my name is Trusty.

Lesson #16: Rules Are Meant To Be Broken

9 May

We talk a lot here about fundamental customer service strategies. So let’s talk about them some more.

The fact is, there’s no unimpeachable book of rules for business. Sometimes going against the grain is a great way to stand out from the crowd: the key is knowing your customers and what they’ll respond to. If you can succeed by breaking every single rule we talk about (note from our lawyers: that’s rule, not law), we encourage you to do it.

However, for most of us it’s best to stick to the basics that Mr. Newton talks about in the video above: be nice, take your time, and be homo sapiens. That, plus a little help from our friends, will go a long way.

Business Networking Simplified

8 May

businessnetworkingsimplified

Business networking can be done in many ways but some are more effective than others. Why not try joining relevant social media outlets or branching out to find new opportunities? Networking can help generate more referrals, increasing your visibility. It is said that word of mouth is responsible for about seventy percent of new business.

Follow up with those you have spoken with with RingByName’s calling logs. It automatically logs all of your company’s incoming and outgoing phone calls. Quickly see who’s called, what calls have been missed and which customers are waiting to be called back. Team members can see what calls have been missed by their department and can quickly act to avoid missing a business opportunity. Learn to network better and your business will reap the benefits.

 

Lesson #15: Treat Every Customer The Same

7 May

You know the guy who said not to judge a book by its cover (if you don’t, you should get more well-versed in cliches)? Well, he probably didn’t work in customer service.

After a while interacting with customers, you’re sometimes able to know them right when they walk through the door – their mood, what they want, if you can help them, etc. However, if you want to really excel at customer service you should treat every person as a blank slate waiting to be helped. It’ll help you solidify your service procedures and principles, and – if you do it right – also help with customer satisfaction. Just about everyone will appreciate a friendly, bright-eyed welcome from your rep, so even if you can’t help them maybe they’ll come back another time.

It’s easy to get jaded and make assumptions in customer service, but if you can avoid and offer efficient and effective service, it will help your business grow.

A Portrait of Facebook and Twitter Users

6 May

averageuser

Companies currently spend 8.4% of their marketing budgets on social media, and that’s expected to grow to 21.6% in the next five years. Understanding what people do on different social networks is central to effectively using those networks for marketing your business. Having a great relationship with your customers are vital can create success for your business. Do this by using a efficient phone system that integrates with the Twitter and other social media as your channel of communication.

Check out RingByName, a phone service that integrates with all leading business CRM and social networking tools along with other cool features. 

Lesson #14: Go Mobile

2 May

People without cell phones are essentially the contemporary equivalent of lepers.

So unless you’re “unclean,” you probably have the capability to make your business mobile. In a market made all the more competitive by the weak economy, you need to outdo the competition, and one way you can do that is by creating an app. That may seem like a massive undertaking, but it’s actually simpler than it appears. Whether you take a stab yourself or hire someone else to do it for you, you really have nothing to lose and everything to gain by staking your place in the app market. Apps make it easier for customers to find information about you – they’re like the phone book x 1000. Likewise, your business partners probably have apps that make things easier for you.

Get on board with mobile, unless you want to risk ending up in a cell phone lazaretto.

The True Cost of Poor Customer Service

1 May

thecostofpoor

There is no better way to boost your business than making sure your customer’s experience is better than the competition. According to a customer experience impact report, if you provide a great customer experience, will be more likely to tell others. Don’t roll over in shock, but the truth is many people still prefer communicating by phone versus email and text. So give your customers what they want: interaction with you and your people.

Connect with them in the newest and coolest way possible: VoIP calling. Calling over the Internet is the most reliable way to make calls as well as the most efficient, because you don’t have to count your minutes. RingByName lines receive unlimited calling through the United States and Canada. Transfer calls between team members across the office or across the world while spending absolutely no minutes.