I am a huge fan of good brands. I am also a sucker for customer service. Combine both and you have an advocate in me. Lose one, well, you still have a fan.
A combination of a good brand and a great customer service is what the Philippines’ businesses should strive for. There’s much to improve in this aspect and the variations of this combination that you get is quite different from all over the country.
Branding VS Customer Service
In some cases, you have a strong brand with great storytelling but when you engage with them and actually become a customer, you uncover customer service that brings tears to your eyes (yes, literally). I am even talking about big brands that get billboards and TV ad placement and yet have canned responses to every customer concern you have. Hello, telcos!
There are those whose brands are not really well known and yet their staff are craving to serve you all too well that you can stop raving about them. Thought of one? Yes, there are a handful here in the Philippines. You just have to wait and be surprised that there’s actually one.
Most of the SMEs try to get a balance of good branding and customer service but are struggling with it. If brands want to fully utilize social media, all it takes is a good listening ear and a plan on how to make their customers happier. If they advocate customer service via social media, it can work wonders.
Social Media Customer Service Done Right
Here are the three things that local businesses are doing social media customer service and outreach right and examples of how to execute it.
Disclosure: I talk about brands a lot and end up mentioning them online for my friends to hear. I am a customer first and a ranter/reviewer second. I never expect responses from the brand owners themselves but a few of them actually do respond!
1. Verbalize gratitude
I recently wrote an article for GMA News about food from my hometown Iligan City. They called it From cake shakes to the city’s famous lechon: What to eat when you’re in Iligan.
The motivation was that I wanted to see positive articles about Iligan City aside from the typhoon and bombing news articles. So I gathered up all the places we visited and the food we ate during our April trip and mentioned the businesses which were actually recommended by friends and family.
When the article was posted online, a lot of Iliganons loved the story and shared it with their friends and family. Some were even nostalgic about our hometown and couldn’t help but mention the other food items that they loved in Iligan.
One owner of a business that was mentioned reached out to me, via social media, and actually verbalized his gratitude.
Why should you say – thank you? Well, it’s good manners. As a brand, saying thank you means you acknowledge what the person has done for and encourage them to do the same in the future.
In social media, saying thank you – especially in a public platform such as announcing it on your timeline also encourages the other fans to actually create testimonial for you knowing that they might be acknowledge publicly – a motivation for those who have the pride in their personal brand.
So, again, verbalize your ‘thank yous’ on social media.
2. Invite advocates to explore your products
I was also surprised when another business owner reached out, verbalized their gratitude and just like the first one, actually invited us to try their other products.
See if there’s something else you can do for the advocate. It’s good practice and will keep your brand relevant by letting them know what other things you have for potential customers.
Social media customer service and outreach is done via close listening to conversations around your brand especially from customers who have used your products and services and have something good to say about them. Build a relationship with your customers and you have an advocate ready to bring pitchforks to defend your brand.
3. Offer personal gifts so customers can finish their stories.
For this post, I am sharing a story that I told via Facebook. It’s about a lost shirt that I had before from a tshirt brand. Embedded below is the post in question and notice that I had tagged the owner (as he was a Facebook friend).
Not expecting anything like it but I was through the roof with happiness when he said he will replace the tshirt. On him. As a personal gift. This is me and my happy face when I was told to claim the re-created shirt at their outlet in Ayala.[pe2-image src=”http://lh6.ggpht.com/-k5qIIw3O6mM/U2TlMDrVyLI/AAAAAAACE4o/Y3qmbsSRhI0/s144-c-o/20140503_191604.jpg” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/100610788162423917775/201405083?authkey=ILR-lC9pKR0#6009179798127364274″ caption=”” type=”image” alt=”20140503_191604.jpg” ]
That’s the perfect use of social media customer service and outreach. You listen to your customers as they tell their stories and then weave your brand to add in to the conversation. What’s a perfect ending to a story than the brand replacing what you lost.
To note though, our washlady sneaked in the lost shirt (USED by someone else) back into our laundry basket. So now I have TWO of the same design. I am never using that old one again for reasons (of course). But for my brand new shirt with the same design, that has a chance of usage obviously.
Customer Service as an Advocacy
Now why am I talking about customer service as an advocacy? Usually, when people talk about social media, all the rage is about platforms – increasing likes, impressions, interactions, engagement. There is nothing wrong with these KPIs (key performance indicators) but remember that social media is just a tool. What the brands learn and receive at the end of the day is what truly matters. Using social media as a way to learn more about your customer, to engage with them, to improve your offerings, to tell a story, to help THEM tell your story – these are they way to go.
What admirable customer service stories have you experienced recently?