Social media marketing starts with the customer in mind. Advertising, feedback and managing complaints mesh together to serve the consumer and business.
This is second nature to Komana M. Nakalonga. The digital marketing specialist has become an industry leader after founding IdeaBiz Digital Marketing and Public Relations. During an Africa Tweet Chat, she explained why customer service is crucial for success.
“Customer service is not just about the management of feedback from your target audience and existing base,” Nakalonga said. “It’s creating one voice for how your reviews, complaints and compliments are handled throughout all the social media platforms used to execute your online strategy.
“This is one of the sustainable strategies companies should consider and invest in because it has proven profitable in the long run,” she said.
Social media users need to employ customer service or management traits.
“The use of social media marketing and its awareness and advertising tools have let companies expand their reach beyond their target market where people sometimes don’t understand the brand,” Nakalonga said. “It’s important to maintain your voice regardless of dissatisfied clients or mere inquiries on the brand.
“That means being polite and professional and understanding the problem to give the right solution,” she said. “We shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss because of an individual’s preference.”
No matter how hard business owners try, angry customers are inevitable. De-escalating tense encounters calls for skill and tact.
“Respond on time. It’s as simple as that,” Nakalonga said. “Facebook uses a response-rate metric. Your audience already has an estimate of the time it will take you to respond to them. Unlike Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube don’t have such a feature.
“Assign someone who will receive alerts and attend to feedback,” she said. “This aligns with the expectations of today’s consumer because most social media users expect a response time of less than one hour.”
Timely responses will reflect well on the company, even giving customers a say in online strategies.
“When you’ve established a relationship with your audience, your campaigns will receive feedback,” Nakalonga said. “Good or bad, it is still feedback to consider.”
Marketers should filter information received to manage anything in questionable taste.
“To avoid bias toward your brand strategy, consider the feedback you receive from your target audience,” Nakalonga said. “This saves you time on research and development.”
Saying the customer is the king rings hollow when brands don’t reflect that in their actions.
“I would like to believe neglect is not deliberate but an oversight caused by entrepreneurs focusing on achieving their goal of attaining their target audience,” Nakalonga said.
“Companies tend to focus on keeping their clients happy,” she said. “However, they forget they could extend their reach to a whole new audience by creating a product or service that’s inclusive.”
Negative feedback is still feedback, which should not be dismissed.
“Ignoring negative comments and reviews won’t solve the problem,” Nakalonga said. “Potential clients are always watching. Listen to complaints. This is the perfect opportunity to improve several aspects of your business.
“Don’t argue or make excuses,” she said. “Acknowledge the customer’s concerns. Offer further steps, apologize and say thank you. Like it or not, your online campaign will depend on it.”
Keep it real
The human touch prevails with judicious use of chatbots and automated responses in social media customer management.
“These tools were developed to help manage inboxes,” Nakalonga said. “Now we see companies personalizing messages that give them an alternative number or email address to air their concerns. This is a no-no.”
She emphasized “undeniable reasons” why customer service is essential to digital business.
“Customer service is not just about responding to queries but the tone in which it’s delivered in,” Nakalonga said. “Social media is a customer service channel. Focus on creating a customer advocate base.
“Rather than waiting to respond to negative reviews and comments, your business’ strategy should involve providing excellent customer service,” she said. “That way you create a strong, loyal customer base that will advocate for your brand if someone has something bad to say.”
Rather than letting others do the deed, business owners should eagerly interact with customers in person or online.
“Social media is a customer service channel that should not be ignored and left to be run by someone who doesn’t understand the values of the business,” Nakalonga said. “Feedback customers receive should reflect the company’s strategy.”