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Do You Do “Social Care”?

Social Care is where Social Media and Customer Care collide. It’s the newest buzz phrase in online customer service and it’s something every small business needs to know about.

Picture this. You’re standing outside the dry cleaners. It’s pouring rain, and you need that jacket right now but the sign on the door says, “Back in 15.” You’ve been there for 20. What do you do with all that spare time? Hop on Twitter and rant about your sodden experience.
Now if that dry cleaner was a social media-savvy small-business owner, his smartphone would alert him to your tweet and you’d get a response telling you he was on his way—that’s Social Care in action.
It’s clear that consumers are already comfortable complaining on social media, but while businesses are only just catching up to this shift, consumers have moved on and not only expect a response, but demand action.
“A year ago, when [consumers] got a social media response from a brand on a customer care issue, they were pleasantly surprised,” Dennis Stoutenburgh, co-founder of Stratus Contact Solutions, said at the recent Wharton Social Media Best Practices Conference. “We’re getting to the point now that if companies don’t respond, they will have a black mark against them.”
It won’t be long until consumers are comfortable ordering their latte over Twitter, hiring a consultant from Facebook, or purchasing a sofa via Instagram. What does this mean for small businesses? It means responding to a tweet as fast as you answer the phone; replying to a Facebook post the same way you talk to a customer in person; and answering a comment on your blog as speedily as you do an email. If you’re not doing this, it’s money walking out the door.
The biggest step to take to ensure excellent social care is scrupulous social media monitoring. You have to be listening to hear what’s been said about you and what’s being asked of you online. Monitoring social media is not an easy task. For American Express, it took building its social customer service team up to 17 people to be able to look at each mention of its Twitter handle.
There are many excellent tools available, but a centralized dashboard such as Hootsuite or Sproutsocial is an essential first step, as is delegating an individual or a sub-group from your customer service team to social care.
Once your team is well-prepared to respond to any and all requests, demands, complaints and compliments sent out over social media, broadcast the fact that you are ready, willing and able to communicate with your customers wherever they are. I know some of you were hoping this social media thing was a just a fad, but it’s time to embrace it. It’s fast becoming the most effective tool for communicating with your customers.
Published: January 29, 2014

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Christopher Wallace

Christopher Wallace is Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Amsterdam Printing, one of the nation's largest providers of promotional products for businesses large and small. Amsterdam specializes in customized promo pens and other promotional items such as calendars, drinkware and bags. Christopher regularly contributes to the Small Business Know-How blog.

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