Start your New Year’s resolution now

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

Gratuitous photo of kitten asleep

Gratuitous  photo of sleeping kitten

This also means New Year’s resolutions are looming onto the horizon and many businesses have decided to make social media one of them.

It’s always a good idea to make resolutions for your business, whether it’s new initiatives or fresh approaches.  Often, it is the New Year when people resolve to either engage with social media for the first time, or freshen up what they have let languish during busy times.

Planning and preparation are they key here.

Think of social media like any community.  You don’t become the most popular person in school overnight.  You don’t move to a new area and instantly try to become everyone’s best friend.  OK, some people might do that.  However, most people try to be friendly, strike up conversation, be helpful and before you know it you’re inviting the entire town round for Christmas drinks.

Which brings me neatly back to resolutions.  You may feel, in the back of your mind, that January is when you’ll sort out your social media and it will herald a bright new dawn.

There is an interesting article here about how consumers are shifting their shopping habits in the run up to Christmas and beyond.  Whatever your business, whether you’re an online retailer, shop or service industry, this is where your customers are and this is where you will attract their attention, and their business.

ipad-iphone-christmas-ornaments

What’s nestling under your customers’ trees?

However you need to do it now, before the New Year and here’s why.

  1. It can take a month or two to get everybody to find you and follow you, and to build up a back log of really engaging content.
  2. There will be thousands of tablets and smartphones nestling under trees this year, and those last few days of December are an ideal time for people to go exploring online.  This is when you will snag them.
  3. It’s also a good time for you to play around, explore and discover new things. If you’re already up and running beforehand, you will be raring to go whilst everyone else is still sleeping off their festive excess.

So what are you waiting for?

If you need some help to get started, or just need a little inspiration, then get in touch.

Is there bad publicity on social media?

Is there bad publicity on social media?

Last week saw the inaugural Armadillo Social Workshops.

A group of local business people spent the day grappling with Facebook and Twitter, learning how it all worked and how to get the most out of it for their business, all neatly illustrated by some muppets and a picture of Scarlett O’Hara.

The Armadillo guide to Facebook (with a little help from Beaker)

The Armadillo guide to Facebook (with a little help from Beaker)

When talking about their concerns surrounding using social media, one of the things that surged to the forefront was the fear of negative publicity.  Indeed, when talking to local businesses on a day to day business, this is often cited as a reason not to bother.

My philosophy on this is fairly straightforward.  If your product or service is usually great, social media is your best friend.  If your product or service is usually not, then social media is not going to make you look better!  However, I don’t tend to deal with people who provide a shoddy product or service so let’s concentrate on the first group.  The customer service rules you have been following all along still apply, except now there is a bright shining spotlight on them.

Inevitably in the course of business, there will be people who have complaints or comments to make.  You can have an off-day, make a bad judgement, there can be problems beyond your control, or your customer can be just downright picky.  However, it’s how you deal with them that counts.

This is something even big corporations get wrong.  You only have to look at the disastrous attempts by British Gas and Ryan Air to see how damaging it can be when you fail to realise that, online, collective little voices are louder than big ones.

In short, the CEO doesn’t get to type in a bigger font.

So here is my 5 point cut out and keep guide to customer service.

1.    People are going to say it anyway.

As a business, you may choose not to use social media, but you can’t stop your customers doing so.  If they have a bad experience, they are going to talk about it, and very likely online.  You will feel much better because you will never know, but the damage it can do for your business can be far reaching.  Far better that they do that where you can see it, deal with it and make amends.

2.    Respond quickly

If someone posts negative feedback on your page or Twitter feed, don’t ignore it; deal with it straightaway.  Professionally and politely.  The best approach is to apologise or express your regret.  If it can be dealt with straight away do so, or ask them to contact you via email or telephone.  This way, your other customers have seen that you have dealt with the problem but haven’t had to watch the whole thing played out.  *** Do make sure though, once it’s resolved, that you come back and comment, so that other customers can see that you have resolved the matter professionally.

3.  Don’t shout, they’ll all want one.

Be careful of being too generous when resolving complaints publicly.  If you are giving away free stuff every time someone has a problem, you can be guaranteed you’ll get more of them!

4.  Fish for compliments

It used to be said that if you have a great experience, you’ll tell one person and if you have a bad one, you’ll tell 10.  However, social media has provided a great opportunity to even things up a bit.  By engaging with your customers, and encouraging them to share their good experiences you can outweigh any negative comments with a deluge of positivity.

5.  Control Alt Delete

Whatever you do don’t delete it.  It makes you look frightened and uncaring.  However tempting it might be to hide in a bush, you can be guaranteed that people will have seen it, and will notice that it’s gone.  The impression it gives is that you’d rather pretend it never happened than try to put it right; this is not the customer care vibe we’re after.  Far better to be seen as professional and proactive.

So there we have it.  People make mistakes, things go wrong and sometimes bad things happen to good people.  However, social media is a great tool for demonstrating how well you treat your customers, even disgruntled ones, and proving just how fabulous you really are.

If you’d like some help with your social media strategy, or would like to attend one of my workshops, do drop me a line.