By: Taylor Jacobson | Marketing Coordinator

Social media, social media, social media. It’s all we’ve been hearing and talking about in the advertising and marketing world for years now. “If you aren’t staying relevant, you aren’t worth talking about” is a common phrase used by marketers when pitching to potential clients. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube...the list goes on and on, and on. “Content” has been a topic of heightened interest recently, due to the fact that anyone with basic marketing skills and an internet connection can promote their business online. While there are a number of trends related to social media marketing I could talk about, I want to focus one that doesn’t receive the attention it deserves: customer service.

There is a specific image that come to mind when the phrase “customer service” is mentioned. For me, I picture long rows of small cubicles inhabited by representatives who spend a majority of their day talking into a headset, conversing with consumers from around the world. While this may be an accurate physical depiction of what the customer service industry looks like, there is much more to it than beats the eye. The way a particular brand handles their consumer feedback can be the difference between attracting, retaining and losing. While all of this may seem obvious, it still amazes me how often it is forgotten. Let’s take a look at three different tactics you can use to help enhance and perfect the way you handle the service you provide for your customers from an online perspective. 

Treat every customer as the individual they are: Is there anything more frustrating than contacting a company about a problem with a product, only to receive the generic, corporate response of “thank you for your feedback, please contact (555) 546-5738 for further assistance.” Okay, so there might be a few instances in life that rattle our cage more than this example, but you get the picture. No one wants to feel like a number. Period. In a world where instant gratification is just a part of everyday life, consumers don’t just want an answer-they want a solution to their particular issue or problem. Context clues and probing questions are just two examples of how you can help get consumers to quicker, more personalized solution. Addressing them by their first name, including emoji’s and using language that the consumer can relate to are ways to help give a more personalized response.  

Imagine that you’re responding in person: When I was working full-time as an assistant manager for a grocery store while attending college at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, I would experience situations that required me to provide excellent customer service on a daily basis. People take their grocery shopping very seriously, believe it or not. Wrongly-priced items, expired coupons and discontinued products are just a few examples of what can set off shoppers. It was my job to make sure these people left the store feeling satisfied and valued as a customer. The key strategy to handling these situations was to level with them and put myself in their shoes, as if it were me who was experiencing the same problem. This allowed me to fully understand their question or concern, which in turn gave me the opportunity to present the best solution. In addition, if I wasn’t able to find an adequate solution for them specifically, they did notice the effort that I put in, which for a majority of customers doesn’t go unnoticed.      

Match their tone, every single time: I’m going to go back to my grocery store example, only because it fits the topic at hand well. When someone was in a hurry and needed a quick answer to a question such as “where can I find brown sugar,” I would respond with “aisle 14.” On the other hand, when a customer informed me that we were out of chocolate chip cookie mix on the day of her son’s birthday and it was all he wanted, it was time to kick it up a notch. I would first search the shelves, making sure a stray package wasn’t hiding behind the other flavors. If I was unsuccessful in locating the product on the floor, I would head to the backroom to continue digging. A majority of the time I was able to find the product due to the fact we kept a mountain of overstock for this exact reason. When I would come back onto the floor with, in this case the cookie mix, the look on the customer’s face is what made the effort all worth it. It was like I was handing them a gold brick. The point I’m trying to prove here is that being able to analyze each situation individually and recognize the needs of the consumer will have a significant on the experience as a whole. I understand that doing this in an online environment where there is no face to face interaction can prove to be difficult, but by putting in that extra little effort, you’re putting yourself ahead of the competition.   

Although I’m just scratching the surface when it comes to this issue, I believe the points outlined above are the initial stepping stones to a positive online experience for your customers. What kind of customer service tactics does your business utilize?