CARE, which stands for Customers Are Really Everything was an an employee training program I went through early on in my career. It was likened to an auto manual in how we were to treat customers, the force which drove our business.
Later, there was a newer model defining customers as both external, being the people who show interest in purchasing your product/service and internal, being employees who show interest in promoting your product/service. That’s right. EVERYBODY is your customer. Get that, and you’ve won half the battle.
Customer service is not an intangible, abstract, invisible force. You can see it and hear it everyday in the way employees interact with people interested in what you have to sell. Dynamic Social Media expert Skarlet Shuplat and I will be exploring aspects of customer service in respect to social media in a back & forth between our blogs over the next few weeks.
She correctly opens with this statement “You need to be social with your fans and followers.” And follows up with three key areas of focus:
- Find Customers Where They Are
- Take Feedback to Heart
- Be Available & Responsive
To read Skarlet’s full conversation (which already started, ladies first), scoot on over to her blog at FoxFireSocial.com
Feel free to jump in with your own thoughts. Because…. as our readers, you are our customers too!
But, for my first blog on the topic of social media presence I am going to… (cue the wavy screen to simulate a flashback)… look at the mindset of business people in regards to customer treatment.
You may have noted in the first paragraph I described customers as “both external, being the people who show interest in purchasing your product/service and internal, being employees who show interest in promoting your product/service.” I did not say buy and sell. For me, customer service has been the process of dealing with interested parties before, during and after interaction — whether a sale took place or not.
Image courtesy of nenetus at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Whether it is face to face, or online, your external customer’s “care experience” will be influenced by your internal customer’s attitude.
That person who walked into your store, called, emailed, or flitted through your website, might not have purchased today, but depending on the “customer experience” could be back tomorrow for something else.
Ever go into a cute little boutique store in the mall, look around and never be acknowledged by sales staff behind the counter because they’re too busy gossiping or even bad mouthing management? Ever go back?
That was a Customer Service fail.
My daughter, as a teen worked at a cool, goth store obviously aimed at active, young adults. One day an elderly (ancient by their standards I would guess) woman in a wheel chair entered the store. The sales crew, having a pity party about job unhappiness, essentially ignored her, assuming she didn’t realize the youth culture of the store and would just roll on out.
My daughter who had been doing stock, (and is a smart kid because Rachael had asked for my advice when going into retail sales) came out to talk to the lady as she was about to leave the store. Rachael explained what the store was all about and the clientele it catered to. The woman thanked her and left.
Next day she came back, asked for Rachael (my kid, beaming dad here), and proceeded to buy over $500 worth of goth shirts, pants, jewelry, etc, for her twin granddaughters who had just “graduated” from middle school and needed to look good for junior year of high school.
That was pay-off to the “Before, During & After with no sale” customer service experience.
Customers Are Really Everything. Had the other two sales staff felt better about their own “customer” experience working for the store, perhaps they would have not let the elderly woman – or any other non goth-looking client leave untouched by a positive customer experience.
The same mindset applies to customer service translated and transmitted through social media. As Skarlet’s headline asks Is Your Social Media Presence a One Way Street?
Just because you have a social media presence on Facebook or Twitter does not mean you can stand behind the counter and ignore people, whether they are paying customers or not. Every question, every comment, every shopper should be acknowledged.
Then Directing Customer Traffic on Your Small Business Social Media Highway will yield positive results.
(Anthony M. Scialis is a social media strategist focusing on blogging & tweeting as a two-step customer service effort in bridging the gap between the wants of your small business to grow and the needs of your customers to be satisfied. Follow https://twitter.com/amssvs)