Imagine walking into a fast food restaurant and the girl on the register is on her mobile phone and doesn’t even acknowledge your presence. You are going to either get really angry and walk out or you are going to say something. Either way, your experience with that restaurant has left you with a bitter taste in your mouth and you will probably avoid that restaurant for a long time or maybe even forever. You will probably even tell your friends about it, you might even make a post on social media or leave a bad online review.
While we are not quite at the point in social media where all customers expect immediate responses from all business immediately and in real time we are fast heading that way.
Since Facebook rolled out their ‘very responsive to messages’ icon we are starting to see our social media become more and more customer service focussed. The problem is most businesses are still not equipped to man their social media 24/7, or even 9 to 5.
A lot of small to medium businesses manage their own social media and some big corporates just ignore it all together. Telecommunications and utility companies seem to be leading the way in using social media as a customer service tool. Companies like Telstra are using social listening tools to respond to any brand mentions on Twitter as well responding quickly to any direct messages. They have moved towards encouraging their customers to contact them through social media rather than run expensive call centres.
Now most businesses do not have the infrastructure or resources to handle 24/7 social listening and immediate direct responses but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t always try the best they can to answer online questions, complaints and engage with potential and current customers as often and as well as they can.
You don’t necessarily have to hire a dedicated social media manager (although I would highly recommend it) but it would be well worth your while to at least invest in a social media strategy and policy for your company. Handing over administration responsibilities can be a little daunting, but with the right policies and protocols it can make your business responsive and customer-orientated.