Customers love telling about their experiences. They tweet about the latest movie they saw. They Facebook about their favorite restaurant. They Instagram pictures of new purchases.
Just think about the latest thing you bought on Amazon. Did you read the product description or go right to the customer reviews?
“Companies that aren’t embracing social media today are missing out on huge opportunities to capitalize on the voices of their customers,” says Ron Kaufman, author of The New York Times best-seller Uplifting Service.
“Companies should be saying to their customers, ‘If you did not enjoy our service, please tell us. If you did enjoy our service, please tell someone else,’” says Kaufman.
The goal: Keep them spreading great things about your company while bringing their complaints only to you. Kaufman offers six tips:
1. Make it easy for them to go social
Hotels routinely send emails to customers that include a link and a couple of lines encouraging customers to share their experience on Hotels.com or TripAdvisor.com.
“When you provide such links, you show confidence in your service and you open up your company to the possibility of a lot of great word-of-mouth publicity,” says Kaufman.
2. Say thank you
It sounds simple, but showing a little love for the love your customers show you goes a long way. All it takes is a message like this: “Thank you so much for spreading the word. As one of our happy customers, when you tell other people about us, it helps us grow and serve you better.”
3. Invite them to reach out
The best time to encourage your customers to get social is right at the time of delivery of the product or service.
“Create a ‘Thanks for Being Social’ promotional piece that includes the company’s Twitter handle, Facebook page, Yelp and TripAdvisor pages, helpful Twitter hashtags, etc., with a line that reads, ‘If you enjoy our service, please let the world know,’” says Kaufman. “The positivity you receive from customers will be priceless.”
4. Urge them to recognize great service
United Airlines recently began its “Outperform Recognition Program,” which encourages customers to use a mobile app to let United know when its employees have provided great service. Both the customer and the employee become eligible for cash prizes and round trip tickets.
“Social programs like these boost employee morale, get customers focused on what employees are doing right, give employees another ‘measurable’ feedback for giving great service, and create a lot more ‘social input’ from customers,” says Kaufman.
5. Answer questions as an FAQ
Much of the feedback you receive from customers comes in the form of questions. When you funnel questions through social media and share the best answers, the benefit is twofold.
“First, this enables you to easily share useful information with other customers,” explains Kaufman. “If you ask your customers to post such questions on your Facebook wall, you can answer the question there for all of your other customers to see. Secondly, it provides a perfect opportunity for your company to build up its informational capabilities.”
6. Make talking about your brand irresistible
The best way to ensure customers spread positive messages about your company is to give such great service they simply can’t resist telling people.
Example: At a Ritz-Carlton, a boy accidentally left his stuffed animal at the hotel. Not only did the staff return the animal, but they took pictures showing the boy what a great time his stuffed animal had during the visit.
A blog post about this on The Huffington Post was then tweeted, retweeted and circulated on Facebook.
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