What do customer service and marketing have to do with one another? Historically, not a lot, but as with everything, the times have been changing. Most people picture a giant call center or an individual sitting in the dark corner of the office picking up phones and dealing with problems, when they think customer service. On the other hand, the public has a very jaded view of marketing and think of tiny models that look nothing like the rest of America. Although some truth exists in these generalities, most SMB’s know there is a lot more to it than that, but many have not jumped on board with the idea that they have now fully intersected on review sites and social media sites.
What does Online Customer Service mean?
Well, it depends on the business, but generally it means that you have a system in place to deal with customer issues and also to endear your customers. For a large company that can mean online chats for tech support and many other fancy bells and whistles. So what does it mean for an SMB?
It means having the best system in place to listen to your customers and socialize with them on the net in a timely and effective way. Though there are countless objections to why a small business would not be able to do this, it is the expectation and if there is no system in place, sit back and enjoy the ride downhill. The facts show that even the least savvy shopper’s research businesses online before they decide to fork over their hard earned cash. So although it will look different for every business, there must be a process!
Online Marketing and Online Customer Service are Cousins?
Though not immediate family, marketing and customer service are certainly cousins on the net. The idea behind is to entice people to do business with you, right? Well now that online reviews are king and social media is driving business, a lot of those customer service activities are out there for the public to see, so how or if you chose to respond or what you post, will dictate who does and does not do business with you. This is truth.
There are no shortage of options out there to make this challenge easier for even the least tech savvy business owner, but some system needs to exist regardless of the size. Whether you manage it yourself or pay an expert to do this for you, it will be important to the long term success of your SMB, even if you have been in business for 30 years.
Figuring out where to start can be a serious undertaking for a business. Here are a few considerations on where to start and where to focus your time and resources:
- Figure out your budget for putting together a system, whether its time, money, or a combination of both.
- Choose who will manage, someone within the business, a hired hand, or a combination.
- Focus on claiming your business on the major sites first, do not spread yourself too thin! (Yelp, Google +, industry specific review sites, Facebook, and Twitter)
- Cross post links to good reviews onto social media
- Commit to a response time and post on all platforms. Remember under promise over deliver.
- Set up some social listening system for both sales and PR purposes.
- Don’t think you can tackle everything, even the pros struggle to keep up!
With all this in mind, the most important concept is to not spread yourself too thin and to be as consistent as possible. Even Yelp shows the average response time from your business, so consistency is paramount to good customer service. You’re great at what you do, make sure everyone knows!