Is anything more maddening than reporting some type of issue to a company only to receive a canned response that seemingly came from a robot?
In the words of Peter Griffin, that really grinds my gears.
Even if the answer isn't what we want, we'd prefer getting the bad news from someone who sounds like a person, just like me, with a little bit of empathy and personality.
Interaction on social media, whether from a friend to a friend or from a business to a customer is expected to be very personal. Even if you are responding from the company Twitter account, please don't feel obligated to give the scripted company line in 140 characters or less!
We do know that the number of customers looking for service via social media is on the rise. J.D. Power reported that about 67% of customers have reached out to companies on social media in search of customer service.
The companies that master social media are able to strike the right balance of being professional and at the same time, showing their human side. Here are a couple of real-world examples of small companies that have resolved issues and created raving fans by simply adding in a human touch to their digital interaction.
It's All About Flowers
Mitch Goldstone is the CEO of Scanmyphotos.com, a service that will take on the time consuming task of scanning your printed pictures and sending them back to you on a disc.
Let's be honest and say that a photo scanning company isn't one that you'd expect to receive consistent, unsolicited endorsements from their customers on social media.
Enter the power of flowers.
Mitch said that every day they send out dozens of flower arrangements to their customers. In particular, when they receive photo packages from a memorial service, anniversary, or some other special occasion they'll send some flowers to that customer.
The response has been overwhelming. Customers take to social media and even contact the company to share stories of just how much the thoughtful gesture meant to them. In fact, the response was so great that Mitch decided to ditch all other advertising and marketing and just send people flowers.
At this point, they've digitized about 250,000,000 photos in large part because they are winning with social media.
They aren't winning by coming up with clever Tweets, but they are winning by being a thoughtful company with a human touch and then their customers take care of the social media for them.
Instagram for Instaservice
Instagram can mean so much more for your business than posting pictures of your products with a Lo-Fi filter.
Lindsay White, owner of the kid's fashion clothing line Lot801, used Instagram to create a life-long customer. By monitoring Instagram, they found a post from a customer who had just ordered and was hoping that they would receive their order in time for their child's first birthday.
Lindsay saw the post and immediately commented that they would do everything they could to have it there.
The fact that the owner of the company replied and was working on it had already made an impact. But when the customer received her order a couple of days later (in time for the birthday) she was blown away!
The customer once again took to Instagram on her child's birthday to show-off the new purchase and of course, Lindsay was quick to share the photo on Lot801's Instagram feed.
Get Out There And Be Human
Both examples given demonstrate that mastering social media doesn't have to be that hard. In fact, it could be rather easy. Remember these key points:
- Offline interaction can lead to online wins. Sending flowers in the mail is very much an "offline" interaction. The beautiful thing is, people want to share great experiences with their friends on social media. What can your business do that is out of the ordinary that will make someone's day and compel them to share the story on social media?
- Be proactive and helpful. Don't just wait for any angry customer to call you out on Twitter. Take time to look for people who are mentioning you in posts, or people who are asking questions about products that you sell and give helpful answers. You may end up getting a new customer, or in the case of Lot801 you may leave a lasting impression on a customer by going above and beyond when they didn't even ask you to.
- Remember the Golden Rule. It simply says to "do to others as you want them to do to you." It's a great lesson for life, but also applies to our customer service and social media interaction. Your customers are real people like you and me, so be "real" with them and more often than not, they'll respect you for it.