Learn how to communicate with people. I am intentionally avoiding the phrase ‘learn how to speak’ as I am sure you can already do that. I mean really communicate.
Effectively, on such a level and in such a way that your brand’s prestige and the other person’s trust in it grow with each word. Providing customer support and communication via social networks is a double-edged sword. You can easily harm yourself if you aren’t in full control of it.
Avoid mistakes – learn about successful customer communication. I’ll show you how.
Manage all aspects of your business
Professional customer support and communication on social media is often a very underestimated part of business. If you have a presence on social media, be it Facebook, Instagram, Google, or elsewhere, it is important to tend to your accounts there properly. It’s not only about publishing relevant and interesting posts, but also about proper communication with your followers.
Unfortunately, many business owners or store owners often lack the time or the right ‘genes’ for communicating on social media. In order to save money, they often entrust the management of their social networks to one of their employees. But if this employee has other duties and lacks the experience and time to take care of customer support, the problem arises. But there’s hope even in these cases.
I have participated in annual private consultations and coaching sessions focused on developing business communication, and I have spent the past four years working actively within social media administration and support. With the new experience, I gain every day, I know for a fact that there is more than one way to approach customer support. I also know that no one is infallible.
So how should it be done? I have several worthwhile tips for you. Let’s take a look at them.
Know your customer
When I talk about professional communication, I do not mean being overly formal and serious. No way.
Rule number one is: know your customer.
It is absolutely crucial to know who your customer, follower, target group is. Simply – the person you are communicating with. It’s the first step to conducting successful customer communication. Are you offering your services or your products to teenagers, families with children, young couples, doctors, architects or someone else entirely? Speak to them as if you were one of them.
It is simple. Your customer will feel understood, and you will find it easier to tune in to his or her needs and way of thinking. It will help you improve how you resolve requests or inquiries, which leads to customer satisfaction, or ideally to a sale. This is because potential customers often turn to customer support for advice or information when they are considering purchasing your product.
The customer is hesitant, and it is up to you turn the tables in your favour.
My advice: I recommend producing a manual for high-quality communication and always having it at hand. This will ensure that you express yourself correctly and coherently. You will also find the manual useful if you entrust communication with your customers to someone else.
A communication manual is a comprehensive document that provides a clear style guide for customer communication on all the platforms you manage. You will use one style when chatting with a customer on Facebook and another when posting a text on Instagram . Each communication channel should have its own rules.
Be professional and keep a cool head
Being, and more importantly, staying calm and professional is easily said, but it is much harder to put into practice. Since you are reading this article, I trust that you are keen for your offers and your behavior to keep your customers happy, and for you to increase your sales. I trust that you are trying to run your e-shop or service well, to improve it, and educate yourself further, because you have already put hundreds of hours of work and a lot of energy and money into developing and managing your business.
Unfortunately, it is more and more common for people to offer up criticism straight away. Just because making a complaint or returning an item is time-consuming and they just can’t be bothered.
When an unsatisfied customer then starts criticizing every little detail about your company that you’ve put so much effort into, it’s no wonder that you see red. And you hot-headedly start defending your company. This is a common stumbling block. Let me just mention that:
‘What appears on social media can harm you for a long time. You can’t solve anything quietly between four eyes on the internet. Hundreds and thousands of other potential customers will learn about a customer’s negative experience or unprofessional behavior. Because even online, negative reviews spread ten times faster than positive reviews, and have an even greater impact.’
I see the lack of an ability to handle criticism as one of the main reasons why communication on social media should be entrusted to a professional. You can be sure that a professional has experience with handling critical communication. They will be able to deal with it calmly and without any personal bias.
My advice: Keep in mind that your response is not only aimed at that one unsatisfied customer, but also at everyone else who can see this review, comment or message. Follow the communication manual; never respond in a rude, insensitive or vulgar manner. You need to communicate with your customers constantly and, as the old saying goes –the customer is king. When the customer resorts to vulgarity and rude behaviour, which is not uncommon, it’s all the more important that you stay professional and don’t get drawn in.
Turn dissatisfaction into sales
The right tone of communication and a good knowledge of your business can help you sell goods or deal with unsatisfied customers. Sometimes it can do both at once.
The visitor mentions that he will not be visiting the fishing area because of the current conditions. Showing that you understand his predicament and offering an alternative solution that he was not yet aware of will convince him otherwise.
Keeping a cool head in practice: how I would communicate
I am sure you would like to know how to put the previous point into practice. So I have suggested an alternative response to an e-shop review I recently came across. I do not know or represent the e-shop personally, so I cannot deal with real data or conditions. Still, I believe that a better response is possible:
Response from the owner of the e-shop:
Hello, and thank you for sharing your opinion with us. I’m sorry that your experience with your order was not very pleasant. I am all the sorrier that you did not ring or text either our support or the courier service when you knew that you would not be able to pick up the parcel. The situation could easily have been resolved as parcels can be stored at the courier service’s storage for up to 21 days once the standard seven-day period has expired. We always try to meet our customers’ needs.
To clarify, I would like to mention that the sum of CZK 166 is charged on the basis of our purchase contract in order to cover the cost of the packaging and sending and handling the shipment that was sent to you and then back again. I hope that this makes things clearer. Thank you for understanding and have a nice day, Marie Brůžková.
When communicating, always keep in mind…
There are a number of points that may seem obvious and yet often escape people in communication. The ones you should always keep in mind are:
- Always start your messages with a greeting and sign off at the end, unless stated otherwise in the communication manual.
- Practice makes perfect. We are human and we all make mistakes. When this happens, don’t be afraid to admit your mistake and offer a solution, or even compensation to make up for the unpleasant consequences. People may often be rude when it comes to problems and complaints, but an honest and helpful attitude is always appreciated.
- Whenever communicating, try to gain as much information as possible right away before you start solving the problem, providing advice, or taking any other steps. This example clearly shows why.
- Be proactive. Ask the customers about their experience and their opinion. Reassure them that by giving you feedback, they are helping you improve. Thank them for any praise but also for objective criticism.
- Avoid being overly familiar, but also overly serious or curt. Make the most of the fact that you are a person, not a chatbot. Find your own distinctive style of conduct and stick to it.
- Don’t waste time bickering and defending yourself when someone is standing up for what they believe to be right. Provide substantiated arguments that you believe are fair and consider the situation to be resolved.
Think carefully about what you want to write. You have time! If a hateful message has upset you so much that it may have an adverse effect on your communication, it is better to leave the message unanswered overnight and provide a calm response in the morning.
Are you worried that the comment may unleash a wave of unwarranted negativity during your inactivity? Hide the comment overnight with a clear conscience. Republish it the next day and respond to everything calmly and thoughtfully.
I wish you all the best when communicating and running your business!
About the author
Marie Brůžková is a member of the agency Level Up Marketing s.r.o., a company based in the Czech Republic and specializing in holistic marketing.
She has focused on internet marketing and copywriting for seven years and has worked as a specialist in customer communication and social network management for over four years.