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The Independent Forecourt Guide to Customer Service ~ with Social Media ~

 

Social media: Love it or hate it, it’s now a vital part of being – and staying – in business.

 

Blogging, tweeting, friend requests and fan pages are the lexicon of the modern world.

 

Instagram is all the rage. Facebook has over 1.4 billion users. YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world and a blog is now the central hub for all your news.

 

All these web concepts have a single important element in common: they are all ‘two way streets’ when it comes to communication. People are already talking about your products and services online, it’s just a question of whether you’re involved in the conversation.

 

People want more, they expect more. They’re using social media.

 

Welcome to a new dawn.

The reality is that social media is transforming the way the world does business. The implications are huge and the prizes enormous for those businesses with the wisdom and foresight to get involved – properly – right now.

For independent businesses in particular, positive customer experiences are vital. Given the importance of social media now in communications, how you handle customer experiences online will have a huge impact on your bottom line. Keep reading for an overview of good customer service on social media.

 

Social media equips your customers with more power over your brand than you as a business have. It is therefore important that you are aware of where your customers are in the online domain and take note of the information they present about themselves and their activities.

 

It’s a competitive time for forecourt owners and managers. Getting positive publicity and digital PR is crucial. Try to find out-

 

• Whether their comments are positive or negative

• What questions and common themes are repeated

• Your customers’ most active periods

• Which networks they use

• Whether every customer post requires a response

 

 

The good customer service practices that apply to traditional forms of communication also apply to social media. You should identify high priorities, including customer complaints and service or product requests. The following step by step guide is a good starting point:

 

1. Correctly identify a customer’s issue

2. Signpost solutions with links to additional information

3. Resolve the issue, even if just responding to a ‘thank you’

4. Personalise your responses

5. Be consistent

6. Ensure your responses are timely

 

 

Consider preparing pre-written responses for each network. These can be referred to, personalised, and used to consistently signpost information, ultimately giving your business more time to prepare suitable responses. Whenever possible, stay in the channel selected by your customer.

 

However, you may wish to move the conversation offline if:

 

• The conversation is very negative

• The dialogue contains a lot of ‘back and forth’

• Personal data is being used

 

It may also be possible to avert potential problems. Think about the types of things that may happen on the forecourt and what your most common issues are. Predicting problems your business might encounter is a great starting point. It is important to remember that, while your forecourt may not be open 24 hours, the internet is!

 

 

Quick checklist:

 

1. Be prepared by putting procedures in place

2.Be timely with your responses

3. Always be appropriate

4. Listen to your customers and learn from them!

 

Have fun!

 

Written by Kate Tyler of Shake Social (http://shakesocial.co.uk)

Kate is a social media specialist and consultant for a range of brands and businesses here in the UK. As Director of Shake Social, the leading social media agency in the East Midlands, Kate helps businesses harness the power of digital marketing to generate leads and build influence. Her clients include international brands, charities and a range of independent businesses.

Image Kate Tyler

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