Social Media @Your Service
Social Media @Your Service
As a small business owner, chances are you are familiar with the marketing, advertising and sales benefit of social media but what about social support ? Online networking events, meetings, support groups and even education are other up and coming uses for social media just beginning to gain ground among small business owners. Keep reading to learn how social media consulting firms are helping small business owners tap into the full potential of this technology to save money, provide better customer support and connect with clients in new and exciting ways.
Support + Services = Sales
It’s an easy formula but seems to be the secret to success for many small business owners. You see, today’s consumer is more informed than ever. Competing on price alone is a race to the bottom…and as often as not, a recipe for disaster. Cheap imports and an appalling lack of customer support has driven the average consumer to the point of no return; it’s no longer enough to have the lowest price in a specific zip code when a client is able to compare prices nationwide with just a few clicks of a button. Saving a few extra cents simply doesn’t suffice if customer service is lacking. No, today solid support and superior service are essential to making a sale. This is where social media marketing goes beyond the basics. In the past, it was often enough just to plant a picture of a product in the mind of a consumer and wait for a sale…those days are long gone. Now consumers price check, read reviews, consider the sustainability of the product…and check the testimonials of other users…especially those within their personal network.
Social Media by the Numbers
Social media isn’t just a passing fad or even a hot trend…it’s the future. According to recent research, roughly 1/4 of all time spent online is now dedicated to social media with Facebook leading the pack (by far). While the majority of these social media users list discounts and promotional opportunities as the major reason to connect with a business or brand, a growing number already search for specific niche information, upcoming products or help.
One of the fastest growing demands cited by consumers is the desire to access online support or help via their social media contact with a company. When asked if they would access help via social media, nearly 2/3 of respondents said “yes”. When asked if they would be more likely to use social media for customer service if they understood their options , over 3/4 replied in the affirmative.
High Demand/High Response
Not only are customers demanding social support, but when a company makes it available, retail consumers actually prefer it over other forms of help.
There are several benefits to providing social support or help; not only do clients want it but it provides an exceptional opportunity to gain a solid understanding of problems well in advance of other trends. For example, by tracking the number of times customer support is sought for a particular problem, it may be possible to intervene in small but meaningful ways. A simple adjustment to instructions could be in order or perhaps, the provision of a better sales explanation would suffice. By engaging with clients you learn valuable information on usage habits, desired upgrades to services or other offerings, unmet needs and problems.
Additionally, thanks to the ultra low cost and easy access, social support is a natural for many small business owners that lack dedicated customer service staff. Rather than interrupting the daily workflow via phone, clients can contact help via social media or email for a quick response. Staff members save time via the ability to use predetermined response(s) to FAQ’s or commonly encountered situations then escalate when needed.
Social monitoring software is also able to target relevant messages in need of attention to provide enhanced client care, superior service and the ultimate in individualized attention.
According to research into over 800 companies, advertising and marketing via social media is great but not necessarily where the biggest gains have been made. According to case studies, produce development and sales support report unusually high gains with over half of those surveyed reporting a full return on money spent via social media. Clearly, the extraneous benefits of social media marketing go far beyond the normal expected results. As greater emphasis is made to provide full service customer support and help via social media, enhanced tools, productivity and tracking will provide even greater gains and insight.
How to Get Started
To determine if your small business would benefit from including social support, first decide whether or not to make it a primary or secondary source of information. For example, if you already have a well established software protocol in place, it may be better to use social support as yet another point of contact, then route to the original support system. On the other hand, for those small business owners that lack a primary support system or who simply rely upon an informal form of support, social support as a primary option makes sense. It’s fast, affordable and a quick way to enhance customer interaction without the high cost.