Today, customers expect service from multiple locations in multiple ways. Providing customer service via social media really is no longer a choice. If you have social media accounts for your business, you have no choice but to also answer questions, deal with issues, and do “customer service” communication on the platforms where you exist. Otherwise your customers will get frustrated with you for not answering their questions.
There are both advantages and disadvantages with offering customer support via social media, of course, and these are detailed below.
There are a number of positives about performing customer service on your social media accounts that you should know about. These pros really do overcome the negatives.
Your Business Will Grow
Today consumers want to talk to you on social media because that’s where they are. They use social media more than the telephone to deal with everything. When you are good at answering and responding on social media, it will make your business grow. As consumers see – in a very public way – how you deal with issues, they’ll be that much more likely to want to purchase from you.
Your Brand Will Expand
One of the reasons you even start a social media channel is to get brand recognition. The better you are at updating and sharing with your audience, the more you can expand your brand. Dealing with customer service on social media causes content to be produced that offers even more information for the consumer before they choose to be part of your client roster.
Social Media Is Inexpensive
This is the very best thing about using social media. In most cases it’s basically free to start, other than perhaps some social media monitoring tools that you might want to use like Buffer or Hootsuite. In any case, the cost is very low compared to traditional customer service means such as a call center.
Of course, nothing is perfect. There are pros and cons for everything you do for your business. Thankfully all of these cons can be controlled by having a process and a system for ensuring that you are able to answer questions in a way that doesn’t look bad for your brand.
Your Actions Live Forever
Online, as you know, your actions really do last forever. Even if you delete something, there are ways to find it. People also take screen shots and use them against people. So, create a system, have standardized responses, and rules of the road for any person dealing with the public.
You May Miss Some Issues
Social media is not very linear. It can be very hard to be sure every last question was answered and every situation was dealt with. Again, if you create systems and standards, you will be a lot better off and be less likely to miss as many issues.
Too Many Channels May Cause Confusion
When you have many social media accounts, someone may ask the same question in multiple places – which can make you feel as if you’re always answering the same questions. You’ll have to work out a process to deal with this and keep track. But, it is something you can control as long as the process is in place.
As you see, with these pros and cons, you can clearly count on the fact that you will need to do some customer service on social media if you have social media accounts. Therefore, you need to set up some sort of process and system to make it work for your business.
Customer service teams are on the forefront of the customer experience. They know probably more than you do (if you’re not serving customers directly) about what the customer needs and what they need to serve the customer. So, in addition to these tips, ask your CSAs to help you make their jobs better by incorporating an open door policy or a suggestion box so they can tell you how they’d do things differently.
A well-trained customer service rep is going to be a lot more efficient than one who is just thrown to the wolves. They will need product knowledge training, computer/software training, processes training and probably even human nature training to deal with customers the best.
Set Customer Service Standards
During training, set some basic standards for the service you want your team to offer. If you’re clear on these standards, your team will understand and follow through for you. Don’t set minimum standards, though. Set a real standard that you’re proud of and they’re proud to meet.
Use the Right CRM Software
One of the most important things you can do for your team is to invest in the right CRM software. There are so many to choose from that it’s beyond the scope of this article to tell you what to look for, but you can find a number of choices here as well as information from customers who actually use the CRM software, Featured Customers.
Set Individual and Team Goals
You can set a lot of goals, such as how many issues your team will clear in a day, as well as how many customers they turn from angry to happy. There are many goals you can implement. You can even let your teams set their own goals.
Give Them Authority
Any CSA will tell you that they need some sort of authority to deal with issues as they arise. Think of how irritated you are at a checkout in a store when the cashier cannot even get in the drawer to give you five ones, much less discount an item or refund an item. Don’t do that to your employees or your customers. Hire smart people who can make tough choices, and set limits but also set them free.
Provide Timely and Complete Feedback
Set a regular schedule for feedback and times when your team can ask you questions. Feedback on a job well done is just as important as feedback when a problem arises, if not more so. You want them to think of you as someone they want to work with – not someone they fear.
Reward and Recognize Your Team
When your team has done well, give them an award. You’d be amazed at how a 50-dollar gift card or a nice T-shirt can help employees and even contractors feel valued.
Understand Your Customer
It’s very important that you and your team all understand exactly who the customer is. They need to know more than their demographics. You might consider making many customer personas or having your CSAs do that for themselves, so that each time they deal with someone they can choose the persona and already feel they know them well.
Know Your Products
It goes without saying that you and your team should know your products inside and out. Most issues that customers have will be how to use something. If your agents know how to do it, and can fix the problem, then all will be well.
With the right training, recognition and goal setting, along with the right software, you can boost your customer support team’s performance in amazing ways. Once in a while, survey those customers who sought help about how they felt your team member did, so that you can always improve based on the consumers’ needs. In addition, survey your team to find out what they believe they need so that you can make their work more enjoyable and satisfying.
When you first start out building a business, everything is so overwhelming that the last thing you want to think about is data, metrics and numbers. In fact it probably scares you to even consider that type of work needing to be done so you can have a successful business. But, it’s really not that terrible if you know what to do. These common mistakes can be avoided so that you don’t waste any more time than you have to.
Not Knowing What Data to Track
Before you even get started looking at the data, you need to know what you want to track. Remember that just because there is data doesn’t mean you need to track it. Some of the data that Google Analytics collects just isn’t going to help you. You have to figure out what will help you and what won't. Focus only on the data that will help you improve.
Not Knowing When to Track Data
When you look at the data is very important, because you have to look at it at the right time in order to know what the data affects. For example, if you have a launch on the 1st of July, you probably want to look at some data you’ve identified before the launch and then after the launch.
Not Understanding Your Objectives and Goals
It’s very important to know how to turn all your business objectives into workable goals. Remember a goal needs to be SMART. That means: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely.
Not Realizing What Problems You Want to Solve
Tracking data should be for a reason, such as fixing a problem. For example, let’s say you have a sales page that is getting a lot of traffic but there are no or low conversions. Do you know what data to look at so that you can fix the problem?
Not Understanding the Business You’re Analyzing
If you are looking at data for a business you’re unfamiliar with, you can run into problems. You will need to do some research to understand industry averages so that you know where the business you’re looking at stands.
Not Testing Different Methods
Whenever you are checking data up against the industry standards, it’s important that you test different methods to find out what works best. For example, you might test two or three different sales pages for one product or service at the same time.
Not Setting Up Analytics Correctly
If you’ve never set up Google Analytics, it would be a good idea to get some help with that from an expert. Once it’s set up it’s going to be a lot easier to track your work, because it’s set up right. It’s a waste of time to do it wrong.
Not Choosing the Right Software and Tools
There is a lot of software out there that isn’t worth anything, but that people try to use. Remember that sometimes free is good, and sometimes free is not so good. If you hire an expert, they’ll help you ensure that you start out right.
Don’t let analytics scare you away from doing business. As they say, nothing is done until the paperwork is done, and that includes online business. You need these numbers to make good choices about what to do next in your business. Knowing the numbers will help you avoid other types of mistakes that can be very costly.
Do: Diversify Your Business Offers
If you’ve been in business a while, you may have reached the top of your growth curve unless you find a way to diversify your offerings. If you want to keep growing, you’ll need to find a way to offer more to current customers or offer more to a new audience. There are various ways to diversify your business offers that make sense.
Fill in the Gaps When you organize your products in order from entry level to highest cost products, can you identify any gaps in your offerings? For example, your income stream might look like this: website/blog, affiliate products, your own products, and courses and training. You could then add in coaching and memberships to the mix successfully.
Open Other Locations
If you have a business focused on one location (whether digital or brick and mortar) and it’s profitable, figure out if your business is duplicable. For example if you’ve written one book, why wouldn’t another book do as well? If you have one store in the north side of town, can you open another in the south side?
Teach Others to Do What You Do
If you’ve made a good business for yourself and it’s something other people can do, you can create a course to teach others how to do it. You can then even help them set up the entire business.
Create a Joint Venture
Working with someone who sells complementary products or services can help you get new ideas for more products. Breathing new life into your business with a new person involved can help you become more creative.
Sell Complementary Products/Services
For example, if you sell a course to build WordPress websites, you can offer a done-for-you opportunity to that same audience. They may then decide, even upon learning how to do it, that they’d rather pay someone.
Write a Book
A really great way to offer a new product or service is to write a book. Once your book is published you can use the book as the start of a course, speaking circuit, how to and more.
Join the Speaking Circuit
A great way to diversify is to create a speech or talk and join the speaking circuit. When you start speaking to audiences you’ll find new offerings start coming to your mind, as you try to give the audience what they need and want.
Expand Your Target Market
Another way to diversify is to find another target market. For example, if you have training for moms to learn to work from home, you could rebrand the same training with a few tweaks for almost anyone if you take out the mom part. For example, you could rebrand it as ways for retirees to work from home.
When you think about your offerings today, you should be able to organize them in a way that makes it easy to figure out where you have gaps and where you can expand and do more. You’ll increase your profit and grow your business smart if you give this a lot of thought and research.
Don't: Leave Your Email Signature Blank
A good email signature is about as important as a good business card. After all, many times the first information anyone gets from you is an email. Providing the additional information in your signature will help you solidify connections, build new connections, and help move people to your social media and even get them on your various mailing lists if they’re not already.
It’s important to take time to make a professional-looking email signature instead of leaving it blank or maybe worse, incomplete or unattractive. Today, there is a lot of good software available to help you make attractive email signatures that will be more noticeable to recipients.
A good business signature on your emails should consist of:
- Your name – The name you’re known as online.
- Your business name – Your main business name.
- Your slogan or catch phrase – It’ll help them know what you do.
- Social media links – The ones that are relevant to the audience.
- Your website link – Your main website link.
- Your phone numbers – This is optional and only necessary if people need to be able to call you.
- Your address – In email marketing you’re required to include a business address.
A bio link
A great way to extend the signature is to include a link to your online biography.
A map (when relevant)
If you have a local business, a link to a map to show where you’re located can help.
Your email address
A link to your email address; even though the email comes from your email address this is helpful.
A vCard (optional)
This is an electronic file you send along with the email that people can download into their contacts info. There are cases that attachments aren’t a good idea; you be the judge.
This is a little extra optional boost to your business. You could include a link to your calendar to request an appointment instead.
In addition, you want it to look really good. You want your branding to appear in the signature space. Today, this is simple to do using HTML. There are software programs that will help you create a signature. You can use HTML to manually create it, plus you can use online services like Xink.
When you include this information on each email, it will give recipients of that information a chance to connect with you in other places. Plus, the offer is a great way to bring private email recipients into your email list, social media networks and more.
It’s super-important to include an email signature because it’s part of your business identity, and email is one of the most important aspects of your online business marketing endeavors. Unfortunately, so many people think the email signature isn’t necessary and seems to have low value. This is just not true because email is the main way that we communicate today in business, with few exceptions.
Think of it this way – if someone reads your email, the little added extra way that you can stand out is at the bottom, which is your email signature. This is a reminder of who the email is from and gives a little extra information about you and your business that can help your readers trust you even more.
Do: Watch Your Virtual Body Language
You’ve likely heard the jokes about miscommunication via online methods – whether it’s email, social media messages or chatting online. The reason is that text communication is missing the verbal body language cues that in-person communication affords.
Interactive technology can often be deficient in allowing communication to occur without misunderstandings. But, you can end those problems by understanding what your virtual body language is telling your customers, and learn how to fix it when needed.
Proper Use of Emojis
Today, even if it feels silly at first, it’s important to use smiley faces, frowns and so forth to help you get your point across. People tend to read tone into messages without knowing the tone that you really meant. If you’re sure how you’re coming across to your audience, conduct a survey and ask them, or ask trusted friends to read over a few of your messages to see what they think.
Your Profile Image
Does your profile image or other images of you represent the type of personality you want people to see in you? If you’re not showing your face, or have dark pictures, people will see your personality differently than if you have images that show your smiling face and your eyes.
Using the Right Terms
One way to expand your virtual body language is to use the right words. You may need to use more flowery language than you would in person to help draw a picture of your words in the minds of the reader. This can help tell your story in a better way so that there is no room for misinterpretation.
Now that the technology is nearly ubiquitous, it’s time to bring video into your communication with your audience. This is going to help them look into your eyes, see your expresses and learn more about you. However, remember that even with video there still are missing components to the communication puzzle that you would have in person.
Go Live and In Person
The fact is, nothing can change the fact that full communication can really only happen in person. If you really want to take your online persona to the next level, take it offline. Start going to and participating in live in-person events and your fans will start understanding you better than ever before – even when you’re back online.
Accept the Differences
Remember that online communication via technology does suffer from lack of information, whether unconsciously or consciously received. This applies to video, simulated in games with avatars, text such as with chat and email, or even over the phone.
Most of us are very dependent on the myriad of social signals that are communicated mostly unconsciously to each other in person. We try to take that online and often are abject failures at it because we want it to be the same. But, it’s not the same, so we need to go further and try harder to be expressive in a way that gets our point across and lets our clients know who we really are.
Creating an amazing digital relationship takes a lot of time and effort. You’ll need to pay attention to all your profiles, who and how you engage with people online, and show people who you are by the information you share with others. There are a lot of ways to do all this, but these are special ways to make sure your audience remembers you. After all, it’s really about building relationships.
A really memorable virtual handshake is more of a journey you take people on through time than a one-time thing. Online it’s imperative that you do all of these things if you really want to be successful.
It’s important that you don’t hide things and you’re very transparent about who you are, what you do and what you’ve done. Plus, you want to have a digital trail following you that shows the proof of everything.
No one can be someone else for long without their real personality slipping out. Never try to be someone you’re not. If you like to work all night and sleep all day, be that person; don’t fake it. People will love you for you.
When you say you can do something, do it. When you say you will do something, do it. Also, you want to do it very well when you said you could. You want to be above reproach and criticism.
Always remember to stay relevant within your niche and within your audience. You don’t want to do something in one area differently than you do it in this area. For example, if you have a reputation of being a mom who works in her jammies, don’t use pictures of you in a three piece suit if it’s not relevant.
Maintain Long-term Relationships
When you can keep relationships going for the long term, it brings a lot of legitimacy to your brand. People will trust you more when you’re surrounded with other known and trustworthy people.
The fact is that your network’s strength is directly related to how successful you will become in your business. If you have developed strong relationships with others, you’ll see the benefits in your business.
Try to increase your circle of connections so that you know people in all fields and areas. That way, when you need an expert for something you can find them. Knowing a lot of experts can make you a go-to person.
Always give more than your audience is expecting. When you do that, they will never forget you. Whether it’s an extra Facebook Live event, a short mini-course, or something else entirely that you can add-on to your offerings, ensure that you wow them every time.
It’s very important to remember that everything you do online can be tracked and traced. If your actions aren’t backed up by evidence, it’s going to be difficult to make a real impact online because everything on the internet lasts forever and follows you forever.
As a business owner, you sometimes discover that even though you think you’re doing everything you should, you’re just not making the kind of profit you thought you would. This is not that uncommon and there are things you can check to improve your profit with just a few tweaks.
Know Your Gross Profit Margin
The first thing you should always know at the drop of a hat is what your basic gross profit margin is and then how that compares to the industry average. The formula to figure out your profit margin is calculated as follows:
Profit Margin = Net Income / Net Sales.
Once you figure that out, you can check it with industry standards.
Dig Deeper and Review All Your Prices
It’s also important to look at the prices of your products or services together and individually. Look at whether you’re making a profit off every single product or service you offer. If the profit is lower on certain items than others, or even at a loss, note that so that you can fix this problem later.
Increase Your Prices
It’s very important as a small business owner that you learn that you should not compete on price. It’s also important that you stop offering discounts without a strategic means to increase profit. For example, it’s okay to offer two or three price points with different value points, but don’t just blindly give someone a discount without a plan.
Analyze Your Expenses
Sometimes expenses can get out of control in any type of business. Take a look at each expense and determine whether or not you really need it. For example, are you paying for a project management solution but you’re not using it? Even five or ten dollars can add up over time and really cut into profits.
Test Your Advertising and Marketing
Often, the biggest problem with profits is poor (or lack of) advertising and marketing. Remember that advertising is paid, such as running a Facebook advertisement; marketing is something you do organically, such as content marketing.
Push Sales Harder
Once you realize what’s going wrong, you can push sales harder by making better sales pages, running more advertisements, focusing on content marketing more and so forth. If you’re not asking for the sale, you’re not going to get the sale.
Redesign Your Website
If it’s been a while since you looked at your website objectively, you may want to check it out. Sometimes changing just one thing such as a drop-down menu or pop-under or slide can make a huge difference in sales.
Rein in Time Suckers
This is something that can get in the way of profits for many types of businesses. Likely online service-based businesses more than others, but if you’re spending a lot of time on social media without a plan, you are eating into your profits. Set a time limit and only use social media when you’re done with your paid work.
If your business isn’t profiting as it should, even though you have good sales and are working hard, checking these things and tweaking them can make a big difference. It will just take a little extra effort to ensure that everything is working well together.
Test Your Next Business Idea Before You Waste a Lot of Time
In order to test a business idea so that you don’t waste money and time bringing something no one wants to market, you need to make sure that there are enough people who will buy it, and then you’ll need to make sure they’ll buy it from you. Fortunately, you can do the research on your idea without spending much time or money.
Look At Your Competition
If someone else is highly successful selling what you want to sell, you can also be successful. Take a look at all their offerings, how they offer it, and start following their audience too.
Start Building an Email List
Don’t wait on building an email list. You can build it via surveys, offering a wait list, giving away a freebie, and other means. Don’t be afraid to collect information while you’re deciding.
Check Out Google Trends
With Google Trends you can look up almost anything to find out what the interest is online. If you want to sell vegan vitamin B12 supplements, for example, you can find out how popular they are.
Find Out Market Size
You can validate demand by learning what the market size is. What’s cool is you can use Facebook’s advertising platform to learn more about your audience, including how many of them exist. For example, you can find out if there are enough 28-year-old moms of twins that need your product.
Develop a Landing Page
Even if you don’t have anything to sell yet, you can create a website and landing page that collects information and email addresses on people who are interested in that type of product anyway. Just give away a free information sheet or checklist or something like that to get people thinking about the product.
List It For Sale
Even if you don’t have the product yet, you can test market desire by listing it for sale without a way to pay. You can do this via listing sites like Craigslist, or you can do it via your landing page. Put them on a waiting list for the product, and you’ll have immediate sales if you decide to go forward.
Ask People to Pay in Advance
If you can get enough orders before you even have the product to justify starting the business, then why not? People use this idea very successfully when they use crowdfunding, or pre-orders for books and other merchandise. Don’t spend any money, because if you don’t move forward you’ll have to refund.
Focus on Solutions Not Problems
When you can come up with an idea that is something people already want, you usually can be sure that you have a winner. But, there is more to it than that, such as ensuring enough people want it to support your business, and whether or not you have the skills to see it through.
Doing this research in advance is imperative if you want to be successful in business. Taking any product or service to market before you have done your research is a waste of time and money. Be sure that someone wants it and that you can deliver it before you get too excited, and you’ll be glad you did.
How to Prepare Your Business for Future Growth
Believe it or not, growing a business takes more thought than just making more sales. You could end up in a bad situation where you’re making more sales than your business can support. It can cause a serious problem with trust from the consumer, and can actually totally ruin your entire business. Better to be ready for future growth.
Create Standard Operating Procedures
Every single business from a fast food restaurant to a service provider can improve their business by creating standard operating procedures. When you have procedures in place that are repeatable, you’ll experience smoother growing pains and even encourage growth.
Save Money for Higher Expenses
When your business grows, expenses go up. Whether it’s marketing and advertising, materials, costs for contractors and so forth, you’ll spend a little more on expenses. But, if you’re ready for the higher costs (which can sometimes kick in prior to experiencing the revenue), it’ll go smoother.
Set Up the Right Software
There are numerous types of cloud-based software that you’re going to need in your business. Whether it’s shopping cart software or a website, you need to ensure that what you’ve chosen is scalable. You don’t want to pay for more than you use, and you want to make sure it scales easily.
Use Automation Carefully
Today you can automate so much, from social media to even accounting. But, it’s important to choose which things should be automated and which should not. Generally anything to do with engagement should not be automated, and anything that keeps you from having to do data entry should be.
Put an Accounting System in Place
If you’re currently doing your accounting by hand and you want to grow, it’s going to be best to create an accounting system that is automated and done by a professional. You can do this with many programs, from Go Daddy Bookkeeping to QuickBooks to Quicken.
Identify Holes in Skills
Sometimes when you want to expand there is a problem when it comes to skills. For example, if you have a service-based business such as a website building business, you’re going to have to hire people like yourself in order to scale up.
Improve Social Media Accounts
As you seek growth, focus more on your social media accounts. Upgrade them, ensure there is a branding match across networks, and then hire someone to keep your accounts up to date and create a social media marketing strategy.
Make Contact with Appropriate Contractors
You’re going to have to hire contractors or employees as you ramp up your business and plan for future growth. It depends on the type of business you have, but if you make contact now and get to know people now, you’ll be ready.
If you’re not ready for growth, you can actually end up losing your business. The reason is that you could end up making promises you can’t keep, or having to turn away people due to lack of supply. This can be really hard to take. But, if you prepare in advance you’ll be ready for future business growth.