If you use Facebook, Twitter or any of the multitudes of networking sites that exist online, then you know the power of social media. It can be a great tool for your small business – from spreading the word about your latest offer to corresponding with others in your industry.

You may also find that it’s a great way to deliver a great customer service experience, especially to those customers who reach out via social media. After all, reports like this one from Gartner have shown that by next year, “organizations that refuse to communicate with customers by social media will face the same level of wrath from customers as those that ignore today's basic expectation that they will respond to emails and phone calls.”

You certainly don’t want a wrathful customer, so here are a few tips to make your social media presence and strategy work best for you and your customers.

Get everyone on the same social media page

Providing great customer service doesn’t involve just one individual interacting with the customer; there’s a lot going on behind the scenes of your small business. From finance and business development to marketing and sales, all the activity trickles down to customer experience.

So, incorporate your social media manager or team into meetings or updates so they have a full picture of what’s going on and can best respond to customers online. With a solid grasp of the dimensions of the company, they’ll be in a better position to have meaningful interactions with customers. They can report back on their online engagement so that, in turn, the rest of the company can be “in the know” about customer conversations.

Set ground rules for responses

Make sure your social media team has a process in place for responding to comments and inquiries on social media. Gartner’s report offers good considerations to keep in mind, including evaluating if a comment is relevant and if you can solve the issue at all.

Sometimes people use comments in a blog or on Facebook as an outlet to vent, but there may not be anything you can say to help. In these cases, it’s best not to add fuel to the fire.

On the other hand, if someone has a legitimate complaint (a late delivery or disappointed expectations), you should acknowledge it as soon as possible and attempt to resolve it through private email, phone conversation, etc.

Look at the bigger picture

Categorize and inventory the types of comments and inquiries made on your social media accounts. Doing so can, over time, provide a wider view of pain points, strengths, areas for improvement, etc. that may be worth considering when it comes to your overall business and strategy.

Use what you’re hearing – good and bad – to shape how you move forward. You can let your customers know that you heard what they had to say and (within reason) you’re responding accordingly.

About the Author(s)

U.S. Small Business Administration

The SBA is an independent federal agency that works to assist and protect the interests of American small businesses.

U.S. Small Business Administration