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Five tips to boost sales and customer service through social media

Thu, October 08, 2015

How can you use social channels to boost your bottom line? Here are five ways that social-based services can strengthen customer relationships, boost loyalty and increase sales.

According to the Institute for Customer Service, one in four social media users in the UK used platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Google+ to make a complaint over the past three months and 31 percent of consumers turn to social media to make pre-sales enquiries.

So the key question for all customer-facing businesses is whether they are truly making the most of social channels and how if harnessed correctly they can make a tangible difference to your bottom line?

Here are five ways in which introducing social based service can strengthen customer relationships, boost loyalty and ultimately lead to higher sales.

1) Power of recommendation

Most businesses regardless of size or type acknowledge the value that word-of-mouth can have on persuading customers to buy, and today many consumers follow or like brands on social media such as Twitter or Facebook with a third of these typically providing feedback on-line.

However, many organisations are failing to really take advantage of this deep pool of existing and potential customers. By proactively interacting with relevant people, companies can find new sales opportunities as well as make the most of positive endorsements or testimonials.

2) Real-time response

Conversely it is even been possible to transform negative comments by resolving these quickly, surpassing expectations, and thereby turning complainers into advocates. Comments such as “I would never recommend you” are converted to “Thank you so much”.

Speed of response is critical for managing requests for information or helping with a problem and the beauty of social media is that you have the power to act immediately in real-time. If you have no voice, then you are helpless to stop any issues going viral.

The percentage of complaints to companies in the retail non-food sector through social media has increased from 2.6 per cent to 6.1 per cent. This is still low compared to the 41 per cent that complained face-to-face, the most popular way to complain, but the use of social media continues to increase dramatically.

This enhanced level of service can also set you apart from the competition and ultimately is a key force in influencing whether a customer chooses one brand over another. With a 360 degree omni-channel service that covers social media, webchat, email and phone, you have the power to offer a quick, open and always available chain of communication with existing and potential customers, dependent on what they prefer.

For instance, non-voice communication may be popular with the younger generation whereas more traditional interactions such as email or voice may be favoured by older people. Providing a choice at all times of the day enables companies to capture the maximum number of enquiries, especially during peak times of the year like Black Friday or a TV or radio advertising campaign.

3) Personalised services

Every customer may have a different request or demand, so your service needs to be able to reflect this. On a medium such as Twitter, it is straightforward to provide individualised responses and enter a direct one-to-one dialogue.

Mixing up different channels can also play a crucial part, as an original lead might start on Twitter, but could end up with a phone call, web chat, email confirmation or face-to-face meeting. The key is to provide a completely joined up service so that as the customer journey progresses there is a seamless link as they move between channels.

4) Capture sales in advance

As in any typical sales cycle, not all customers are ready to buy when you first start to interact, but that does not mean that social based communication that doesn’t immediately lead to a sale, holds no value.

On the contrary, if the customer service and marketing teams work together, initial interest in a product or service can be recorded and a prospect can be added to a relevant database and/or to future campaigns.

So, for example, if a product or service that they are interested in is yet to be launched, they can be contacted at a later date or you can invite them to sign them up to special offers or even competitions. Working in partnership with your marketing machine, all followers and interest can be logged for the long-term, enabling you to nurture on-going relationships that result in loyalty, recommendation and on-going future sales.

5. Harness the cumulative value of social

Investing more in service has a direct correlation with a rise in short and long-term sales, but ensuring that your service is accessible to all of your audience across a variety of mediums means you can truly maximise your customer satisfaction.

Within a social setting the power of good customer service is multiplied due to its inherent transparency and the ease in which all customers’ experiences can be viewed and shared.

The cumulative value of combining social-based customer care with service delivered over more traditional methods such as phone or email means that your brand has the ability to appeal to a wide range of tastes and preferences.

Of course measuring the overall feedback from customers across all these touchpoints can also provide a rich source of market research that can be used to make your product or service even better.

Dino Forte is MD of Ventrica.

Published in Real Business Magazine