Welcome to the Conroe/Lake Conroe Chamber’s Professional Business Development Online Series, or PBD Online for short. Our first season’s episodes are dedicated to “Communication In Crisis” – as we navigate the uncertain times surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic and how Conroe businesses will not only survive but THRIVE despite adversity.
Our third blog of season one is highlighting why this is the perfect time to start using your social media platforms as a customer service tool and the best practices on how to do so.
If you tuned into our previous videos, you already know that transparent, thorough, and consistent communication is absolutely paramount in times of crisis, and frankly, every day. But let us make this even more clear – this is your opportunity to tell your story before someone else does. Social media is a public forum where you can really show off your expertise and commitment to your customers if you choose to. If someone is pleased with your service, you can show your gratitude. If someone is less than pleased, you can publicly and quickly satisfy them, where everyone can see, if you take the time to do so.
When a question or concern pops up on one of your platforms, respond quickly and compassionately. Express your appreciation for the opportunity to learn how to better serve your customers. If you can answer right there, do so; oftentimes you may be dealing with a common question that other people may need an answer to, then the solution is visible to all. If the issue is more elaborate, requires more steps to resolve or contains personal details like an account number or full names, respond kindly, and offer a confidential method by which to contact the company. This shows your commitment to a timely resolution and the privacy of the customer.
Now, for those customers who have an ax to grind and won’t stop with the jabs online, the best rule of thumb is this: DON’T FEED THE TROLLS. As outlined in the book “Hug Your Haters” by Jay Baer, the company is obligated to respond twice publicly and then offer to take the conversation offline if the customer is not satisfied with the solution. Most people are experiencing heightened feelings of anxiety in the midst of crisis, and while that is no excuse to not be self-aware and practice some patience with others, this is your chance to be a model. Reminder: all of social media is a public forum. As disrespectful as said customer may be, it is YOUR reputation at stake, not the random keyboard jockey’s, when you choose to stoke those fires.
If you need to walk away momentarily to formulate a response (that isn’t in all caps and with questionable language), do so. If you relish in these opportunities to flex your customer service muscles (like it does for me, your passionate and nerdy director of marketing), let them know that you are terribly sorry for their experience and you are more than happy to continue to conversation on the phone or via email – and leave it at that. Do not continue to respond, no matter how libelous it can get. If need be, close the comments for the post or delete the post altogether if language and tone get truly out of hand. At this point, you have offered a timely and reasonable avenue to resolution; you have led the horse to water but can’t make it drink.
When you improve your response time and sympathy to these concerns, you both build up your reputation as a service-dedicated business and you can accumulate data that can help you moving forward. Do you get a lot of the same questions? Clearly, you can revise your descriptions or instructions on your website. Does your product keep breaking for folks? You can go back and quality test your items. Are the shipping or convenience charges not worth the product? You can ask your merchant banking or shipping company for options, or price out others. When you are actively adjusting your business model, services, and products according to your customer base’s needs, your offerings grow and in turn, your profits grow. AND you become a beacon for folks in your industry. Being a resource when many people are stifled by “paralysis by analysis” with foster loyalty to your brand during and after crisis. And that’s what we all want, right?
We hope that this short blog about “Communication In Crisis” sparked some ideas for you and your business as we all navigate these uncharted waters together. To recap, now is the time to tell your story before someone else does. Formulate some timely and sensitive responses to facilitate solutions for your customers when there is unsure footing and hardship. Flex your customer service muscle to glean data about your business to better serve your customer base and finally – don’t feed the trolls!
If you have questions about the Conroe Chamber and how we can help, drop us a line at Conroe.org. Tune in again for Season 1’s final episode, Episode 4 of PBD online as we break down why you need to be using VIDEO to market your brand during crisis and beyond. Until next time, shop local, support your chamber, and stay vigilant!