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Social media gives businesses a chance to interact with their customers, with real time customer service and troubleshooting. However, this access comes with a price: for every twenty satisfied followers, you will assuredly run into a vocally dissatisfied customer. Many may have legitimate complaints, but there will also be those who use social media solely to make personal attacks on you and your business.

How do you handle complaints, without alienating customers or increasing tension? While far from complete – every situation is different – here is a list of some best practices to consider for handling and preventing customer complaints:

1. Do not try intimidation

When someone attacks your business online, your first inclination may be to threaten or otherwise intimidate the attacker into taking down the complaint. Do not do this! Far from helping you, this only serves to add fuel to the fire. Threatening your customers online never solves the harm they are causing you, and it often backfires dramatically.

Trying to hide, censor, or remove a piece of information usually has the unintended consequence of publicizing the information more widely. This is referred to as the Streisand Effect, so-called for when Barbara Streisand sued a photographer in an attempt to remove a photo of her house from a website. Like Barbara, you will find online arguments costly, due to the additional customers and prospects watching from the sidelines. So make sure everyone that works for your company knows how to slow down, breathe, and watch their responses – consistently. Train them to think about the big picture – your company depends on it.

2. Reach out to online complainers directly

The first thing you want to do when you read an insulting tweet aimed at your company such as, ”Company X is awful, they charge you twice! Must think we are suckers. #FAIL.” is respond angrily. Do not do that!

You and your staff need to keep calm and craft a response that is thoughtful and positive. Most importantly, you need to respond to the original complainer with a message that acknowledges their complaint and invites them to discuss it with you. Offer various methods to contact your customer service, on- and offline. Do your best to take the conversation to an offline arena, where you can both calm down and work towards finding a solution. Once you resolve the problem, you should ask the complainer to take down or amend their original message.

3. Do not delay responding

Time is of the essence! Your social media representatives must be constantly and consistently monitoring mentions and interactions. The only thing worse than getting into a social media situation is realizing you are embroiled in it after everybody else. A small error + slow response time = colossal public relations disaster, even if the response time is the length of an afternoon. As soon as something pops up on the radar, you and your team should be formulating a response – or better yet, already have a company procedure in place for them to follow.

4. Train your social media representatives in customer service skills

Social media response is, for all intents and purposes, a customer service job. Yes it is customer service at a breakneck speed, with various hazards and quirks, but you are still serving the needs of customers. If your users are expecting your company to meet their needs online, you should be prepared to meet those needs superbly, energetically, and as quickly as possible.

Start off on the right foot by staffing your online presence with people, not technology wizards. The latter may have more technical skills, but by making your focus customer-centric, you will strengthen your brand, your relationships with customers, and your business will win out in the end.

5. Prevent complaints in the first place!

Unhappy customers are more likely to complain on places like Yelp, TripAdvisor, Twitter, and other public online forums if they are not receiving the help and attention they need in the first place from your company’s customer assistance. They want to know that your company is only a phone call, email, or online form submission away, so prove it to them.

Offer live chat on your website, especially for when your FAQ’s fail to assist. Offer “chime-in” forms everywhere. Provide an easy way to respond at the bottom of every corporate email, and ensure that it reaches the mailbox of someone who cares. Ensure the first impulse of your customers is to reach out to you, day or night, instead of lashing out online. Proving your rapid responsiveness will keep customer complaints in the family – and improve your business’s bottom line!

Often while online shopping, customers have questions about products and services. While they may be able to find the answers on your site, people like talking to other people – which is why so many businesses are adding live chat support to their sites. Besides keeping potential customers from clicking away to another page, it adds considerable benefits to the staff as well as the company’s bottom line.

Not convinced? Read on for five reasons live chat is worth integrating into your business:

1. Convenience for customers

As I said before, customers like talking to humans! They want help from a live person while they are shopping online, so they can ask questions. Live chat provides immediate access to answers, with a minimal wait time. Customers can continue browsing products online while they wait for a representative to get back to them – increasing the likelihood of them staying on your site, and minimizing the pain of wait times. It is much more pleasant to wait for a live chat than navigating a 1-800 number!

Live chat is critical for answering customer issues, and since it happens right from the product page on your website, your business is more likely to address their concerns and positively impact their confidence shopping on your site.

2. Live chat cuts down on expenses

Live chat software has consistently proven to cut down on employee task time and phone expenses. The major cost savings include:

1. Reducing overall volume of calls to the call center, lowering the average interaction cost.
2. Increased efficiency of customer service representatives: live chat offers the ability to chat with multiple customers at once, reducing the need to hire additional representatives.

Live chat is also cost efficient in that it often increases the average order value of customer purchases, as representatives are able to offer helpful advice and products matching customer interests in real time, along with answers to product questions. This increased confidence helps customers feel better about buying these items, as they are more likely to match customer wants and needs – and less likely to be something they will have to return later.

Implementing live chat function on your website is not an expensive endeavor, since it typically pays for itself with conversions and increased average order values (AOVs).

3. Increased conversions and average order value

Including live chat on websites is a trend that tends to increase sales. The experience with your business is made more enjoyable with the use of live chat, resulting in increased conversions and a higher average order value.

It is key that customers immediately have someone walking them through a sale and answering questions if they get confused, or have a question that could make or break a sale. This helps eliminate bounce from retail websites and ensures that full shopping carts are not abandoned, and also helps your company’s bottom line by increasing the speed and effectiveness of your customer support services.

Live chat also presents additional opportunities for upselling products. Once customers are engaged with a representative who can understand their needs, the employee is in a perfect position of trust to recommend additional purchases that may be great fits for that person and their lifestyle needs.

4. Stand out over your competition

To get a leg up on your rivals, live chat is key. Many top retail businesses are not offering this type of support, so simply having it gives your company an edge that can help you rise to the top. A live chat program gives you a way to connect with your customers, and to focus on the needs of your customers at every major touch point in the buying funnel on your website.

Live chat gives you the opportunity to offer as much value to your customer’s experience with your business and its offerings, and to interact with them on a personal level. Its effectiveness as a platform is incentive enough to begin winning over the customers of your competitors by consistently improving upon their experience with your business.

5. Connect with your customers

This is pivotal on so many points. First, live chat provides access to customers’ pain points, or frustrations. When customer use live chat, they give representatives insight into needs that are not being met, which can be turned into profit: with the company writing new content, such as a blog or article, and turned into improvements in the company’s products and services.

All these improvements and listening to your customers leads to deepening customer relationships, which is critical for the long-term growth of your business. Returning customers spend more, refer friends and family members in their network, and can remain a paying customer for decades, depending on your industry. Live chat programs help foster these relationships by showing your company truly cares about your customer’s input and happiness.

We all love reading stories about epic customer service saves. It is the business version of a happy ending: the company listens to the customer, the problem is fixed, and everybody wins.

Why do we love these so much? Perhaps it is because it reminds us that there are companies (and customer service reps) that care about their customers. Businesses like to claim that their customers are the number one priority, but these stories prove that there are companies out there who will go the extra mile to take care of their users.

Think of the following stories as inspiration to take your customer service to the next level!


A couple of years ago, one Redditor’s grandfather got snowed into his apartment complex in Wayne, PA. Concerned about his food supply level, his daughter called several grocery stores in the nearby area, checking if any offered grocery delivery service. No store offered it – not even Trader Joe’s – but they were the only ones to step up and volunteer to help out the World War II veteran. They even suggested options for his low-sodium diet!

Not only did they deliver the groceries for free – they did not charge a dime for the food!


A letter from three-year-old Lily concerning a bakery item entertained the employees of Sainsbury’s back in 2011. “Why is tiger bread named tiger bread?” her letter asked the grocery chain. “It should be called giraffe bread.” To everyone’s surprise, a customer service manager at the company responded encouragingly, telling her that her idea was brilliant. He sent her a gift card, and the bread was renamed.


Zappo’s customer service is well-known for their excellence – I could write an entire post on them alone! – but I want to focus in on one specific instance. A customer’s mother went through medical treatments that made her feet extremely sensitive to pressure. In search of a shoe that would help, her daughter purchased six pairs from Zappo’s, hoping one would work. After receiving them, she contacted customer service for information on how to return the shoes that did not work, and explained the reason why she needed to return so many.

Two days later, her mother received a large bouquet from Zappo’s, wishing her a quick recovery – and two days after that, the customer, her sister, and her mother were all upgraded to VIP memberships, giving them free expedited shipping on every order!


Nordstrom’s customer service representatives are the gold standard, and here is why: in 2011, after noticing a woman crawling around on the floor, anxiously checking the carpet, a security guard stopped her to see what happened. It turned out that she had lost a diamond from her wedding ring. When he heard that, not only did he get down on his hands and knees to help, he enlisted a small team to help them and, when they could not locate it in the area, painstakingly sifted through the vacuum bag detritus until they found her diamond!


You do not often hear positive stories about tech giant Apple, but this one, published just after the iPad 2 launched, is a nice change. Apparently a man bought an iPad online, only to return it immediately with a sticky note affixed reading, “Wife said no.”  The returns processors must have had a field day, because the story made it to a couple of VPs who not only refunded the purchase, but sent back the iPad with an attached note saying, “Apple said yes.”


Author and business consultant Peter Shankman was getting ready to board his last flight after a long day traveling. He knew it would be dinnertime when he arrived at home, and decided to go out on a limb, tweeting at steakhouse chain Morton’s, “Can you meet me at Newark airport with a porterhouse when I land in two hours?” He got the surprise of his life when he landed and was greeted by a gentleman in a tuxedo holding his order as well as bread, side dishes, and silverware!


Last but not least, Southwest warmed the hearts of many when they helped a man flying from Los Angeles to Denver. He was on a business trip when he received word that his grandson was beaten into a coma, and being taken off life support at 9 PM that evening. His wife called Southwest to rebook and explain the reason, but traffic and TSA lines prevented him from arriving on time. When he reached the gate, however, he found the pilot waiting for him. He thanked the pilot profusely, who replied, “They are not going anywhere without me, and I was not going anywhere without you. And again, I am so sorry.”

Social media is a wonderful tool to promote your business, build your brand, and interact with customers. Unfortunately, in the case of the latter, your interactions will not always be positive. No matter how well you take care of your users, there will come a day and a customer who is upset and angry, and determined to tell you exactly how they feel.

As much as you might want, ignoring these vile social media statements is not an option. As discovered by Dimensional Research in a marketing study, 86 percent of their respondents indicated their buying decisions were influenced by online negative reviews. You have to respond, and most importantly, respond without taking it personally. This is hard when it is your business, but do not fire back with passive-aggressive messages, or delete their message. If an upset customer wants to be heard, they will be heard – on every social media channel. Instead, consider the following method:

Considerations before you respond

See it from their shoes. Try to understand where they are coming from, and if it is a valid complaint. If they are a customer or a client, you should move forward on creating a response. If it is a baseless or hurtful attack from an unrelated source, there are other strategies to use.

Be quick, but not immediate. Obviously, the rapid-fire delivery of social media means you need to act fast with dissatisfied customers, but take time to work through the issues first. If you are unprepared to work to a cohesive solution, or do not correctly understand the situation, that will show in your response.

Get offline. The faster you are able to take this conversation offline, the better. It is easier for both sides to take a breath and work through the problem when the conversation is not public – and no company needs their dirty laundry spread across social media. If it is a customer, and they have a legitimate complaint, pick up the phone and sort it out.

If the issue cannot be solved offline, ignore your instincts to delete the conversation. That will only add fuel to the fire! Instead, take this opportunity to publicly showcase your business’s ability to calmly and collectively solve the problem.

Tips to consider while drafting your response:

1. Take accountability. The best PR decision you can make is accepting responsibility – even if it is not fully or even partially your company’s fault. Your customers and future customers will admire your addressing the concern publicly.

2. Validate the concern. Any upset customer wants one thing first and foremost: acknowledgement of their issues. Empathize with their complaint, and let them know they are heard and understood.

3. Give a clear directive. Others will be reading this exchange on social media, so offer clear instructions for further assistance or more information. For example, providing an email or customer service phone number as well as the FAQ page web address from your website.

4. Update when everything is resolved. Once you have found a solution that satisfies your customer, ask them communicate the outcome on their social media. However, if the issue is still sensitive and you do not feel comfortable asking, feel free to post the message alone. The trail of dialogue and resolution will showcase your company’s customer service skills.

Responding to angry comments

If you feel you must respond publicly to angry comments, consider the following first:

Getting into online arguments never ends well. Try venting your frustration offline, and posting a response after you cool down.

Take the high road. Do not stoop to their level, use insults, or a derisive tone. In every case, it is best to publicly agree to disagree.

Keep it as a draft. Try forming a response and keeping it in your “Drafts” folder until you cool down. Have a second set of eyes – a trusted friend or colleague – take a look before you post, as their view will be more objective.

In a nutshell, think carefully and thoroughly vet your response to any negative comments on social media, even and especially when there is no reasoning with your customer. The best case scenario for that looks like this response by the Liberty Bottleworks CEO. And if you need any more evidence that responding angrily does not help – take a look at this massive meltdown by Amy’s Baking Company after getting dumped by Gordon Ramsay.

Take care, and social media on!

Social media is a powerful tool. When used correctly, it can grow your business exponentially, attract new customers, accrue customer loyalty and trust, and solve customer service issues before they become real problems. However, if used in the wrong way, it can easily cost you goodwill and prospective customers – as well as cause some PR issues. So how do you make sure you are keeping on the straight and narrow of social media? By learning what NOT to do, from the commonly made social media mistakes!

1. Not having a social media policy in place

As long as you have team members on company social media or with publicly linked social media accounts, you need to have company policies in place regarding appropriate behavior. Creating guidelines of proper etiquette for both at work and after-hours gives employees an idea of possible missteps, and gives you something to fall back on if there are any issues.

2. Approaching all platforms the same

Not all social media is created equal. Similarly, not all content will translate across the various platforms. Each site has their own type of content, language, and audience, and you have to be fluent in each in order to find and connect with your ideal users.

Take some time before you launch on any site to explore and research what works best. When you finally begin, do not make the mistake of posting the same content across your social media’s; that feels fake, more like an ad than an interaction. Instead, tailor each site’s message to resonate with the platform and audience.

3. Not prioritizing your bio

This is the first thing customers see when they find you online. Maximize your bio’s effectiveness by including your company location, website, and a short description.

4. Focusing on the number of followers

In the social media game, it is quality of followers that matters – not quantity. More followes does not necessarily translate into more sales. Instead of zeroing in on follower acquisition, focus on listening to and interacting with the followers you have, building brand loyalty and creating brand advocates. Use them as a sounding board to figure out what tone and types of posts resonate best with your audience. As you perfect your social media skills, your audience will naturally find you.

5. Not using social media to be social

It is right there in the name! Social media is meant to be an interaction between you and your followers, and it can go bad quickly if you use it simply as a megaphone. Do not blare out brand announcements; instead, dedicate a team member to monitor channels, foster engagement and conversations, and generally react to followers as a human.

6. No newsjacking!

Resist the urge to use a major world event or trending news as background for a post. At best, your company looks insensitive or ignorant, and at worst, the backlash can harm your company’s reputation.

7. Excessive or inappropriate posts

No one wants to see constant posts and updates, from person or company. If you blast notices too frequently, you are going to end up with a lot of people hitting the “unfollow” button. Determine what hours your followers are most active, and try to focus your activity around those times – more like several times a day, than several times an hour.

Monitor feedback and engagement to make sure you are continuing to connect with your audience, and posting what they want to read! This keeps your content company-appropriate. If your audience is a serious professional crowd, you will probably find that cute gifs, while fun, are not the type of subject matter in which they are interested.

8. Infrequent posting

If you do not put out the welcome mat, no one is going to come visiting. This is the same idea: if you do not have the time to post regularly, you are not going to gain followers or have meaningful interactions with customers. If you cannot commit to 5-7 days a week of monitoring and posting, you might as well not bother.

9. Reacting to, ignoring, or deleting negative posts

Responding in any of these ways will only make things worse. The most important thing you can do is acknowledge their message, even if you have not done anything wrong, and ask them to send you an email to work out the issue. Stay cool, and act professionally.

10. Not checking for customer posts relating to your company

Customers are posting about you, whether you realize it or not. If you have a Facebook page or Twitter, they expect that someone is paying attention to their kudos and complaints. If you do not respond, they assume you do not care.

11. Lagging response time

Similarly, if there is a post or a complaint on one of your channels, respond as quickly as possible. The longer you wait to respond, the greater the chance a small issue could turn into an online bashing of your company – a PR nightmare!

To help prevent this, set clear hours you have staff online and addressing consumer complaints, and quickly facilitate all customer service assistance.

12. Lacking a human voice

When people reach out on social media, they are looking to interact with a person – not a machine. Reflect this by humanizing your support staff. Encourage them to have a personality during chats, crack innocent jokes, and introduce them on a website page. Ensure the staff also knows the guidelines for company social media, and understand they are representing the brand.

13. #Too #many #hashtags

Jumping on various hashtag bandwagons will not serve your brand. Instead of piggybacking on a trend or keyword, focus on deepening your interaction with followers. You will find that tactic pays off in the long term.

14. Direct messaging new followers

Although the purpose of signing up to social media is to get to know your customers better, do not start sending direct messages [DMs] to everyone that follows you. Automated messages will put people off, and seem a little weird and desperate. Instead, polish your skills and continue to grow and perfect your various channels; the interactions will naturally happen.

15. Forgetting a call-to-action

Give your followers something to do from your posts! Include links to your blog, website, or a resource – something that is measurable. Also, do not forget about tagging relevant users – people love getting mentioned, and this can be a big social media relationship-builder. Hashtags and keywords make your posts more searchable, but do not go overboard.

Being relevant to your followers means more than personalizing emails with their name. You need to understand what motivates them, and how that relates to your brand, your company, and your products. You should prioritize making sure every contact customers have with your company conveys the degree of respect you hold for them, so they are reassured why they have chosen your company.

The most successful companies on social media have several things in common: they have a demonstrable respect for what drives their customers and prospects (clearly not faked), they have the same interests as their customers, and they are incredibly consistent across the platforms. Here are a few other lessons you can apply:

A. Speak your customer’s language(s)

Make content like ThinkGeek does, a company that carries thought-provoking items with high nerd appeal. Their product descriptions are peppered with inside jokes, references to geek culture that their customers understand and love. One of their recent email subject lines read, “ThinkGeek less than threes you” [i.e., <3].

One of the most amazing examples is on their Facebook page, when a fan posted an update in binary code. Not only did ThinkGeek respond in kind, their comment raised additional responses – all also in binary. That is speaking your customer’s language!

B. Be human

It is important to present your customers with a consistent and human voice behind the company face. Creating posts that highlight the people behind the web presence encourages your customers to relate to you.

Blog posts highlighting and introducing members of the team, pictures and descriptions of team building activities and adventures, team members taking turns guest posting articles on activities or interests relating to customer and products, and news articles that will pique interest are all great ways to relate to your customers. Even better is when your post encourages interaction and responses!

C. Engagement, not selling!

Consider splitting your company feeds into two separate identities: one for acquisition, and the other for engaging customers. Twitter is optimal for this exercise. This helps both you and the customer in several ways. For one, you are able to keep customer acquisition channels separate from customer retention, meaning you and your customers are never confused about the messages being sent. Additionally, you will be able to focus and perfect the tone of each channel, and see what resonates best with users. Customer retention might have a more playful and witty voice, while customer acquisition will be more informative, discussing new products and services.

D. Let your customers express themselves

Make sure you devote website space (and team member effort) to encouraging customer engagement. This is so important! Engagement with your products is half the fun, and you want to show clear appreciation for fan experience.

This can be expressed in many different ways. Things like featuring rotating customer reviews on the website, giving points for writing reviews, holding contests based on user engagement – such as through an Instagram contest, or one hosted on the site – or even just providing the capacity for users to upload photos and videos of the product in action, can all be great ways to encourage customer expression.

E. Integrate marketing and customer service on the regular

If you have great customer service, your customers are going to want to talk about it – and tweet about it, and post about it. When they do, the best thing your marketing feed can do is pick up on those responses, and already know what is going on.

How do you handle this? Simple: keep your team members connected via Slack or other messaging service, and constantly able to update each other on developments in customer service or online. Customers will be thrilled to see your Twitter feed not only picking up on the accolades they give to your employees, but already in the know about great customer service happenings!

This kind of engagement is not always easy to cultivate, and it must happen organically through the enthusiasm of your employees and your customers. That being said, this opportunity is out there for any company whose employees believe in and love what they do!

Social media has been so quickly integrated into our society, most of us cannot imagine a world without it – or knowing how to use it. For businesses, having instant contact with your customers makes a steep learning curve. Customer expectations mean you must be present on all platforms and available constantly, especially to deal with any customer service issues that arise. You should also be able to balance customer wants with business needs, creating good PR as you go.

So how do you make sure your presence online is an asset, and navigate webcare well? I have 6 ways to help keep your online presence helpful, and customer satisfaction high:

1. React promptly and appropriately

The most important step in all webcare is to respond as quickly as possible to all comments. Customers want to know you are there for them, and getting a response from your avatar days after they post is not optimal. Especially if their comment instigates a quick action – for example, notifying you of a spelling error in your blog – thank them with an immediate message after taking care of the issue.

Make sure your response is appropriate to the situation. Do not just answer negative reactions; take the time to acknowledge and thank positive messages about your brand, company, or products. This shows you truly care about your customers and not just your reputation.

2. Be helpful

This might seem like an obvious one, but it is important to remember the basis of webcare: helping your customers. This is easily forgotten in modern customer service, where metrics such as wait time and turnover time are most important. Remember that each interaction matters, in quality more than quantity. Customers have hundreds or thousands of other options available; use this interaction to remind them why they should stay with you.

Simply being available to chat or talk does not make you helpful!

3. Honesty and transparency!

The mark of a great webcare program is transparency. Every customer service representative should be honest and open with the customers. If a mistake was made, they should readily admit the error. If they are not sure what the answer is, it is okay to say “I do not know” as long as the representative clearly communicates their action plan to find the solution.

This does not mean enabling unrealistic customer expectations. Over-promising will result in frustration, disappointment, and anger down the road.

4. Over-deliver

Do everything you can to go that extra step for your customers, especially if you were in the wrong. This can include biting the cost of a rushed shipment, sending an extra gift, crediting their account, gifting a future discount, etc. This can go a long way in smoothing hurt feelings with a disgruntled customer. Make sure to check in with them after a solution is found, to emphasize your dedication to customers.

Remember that not just upset customers want perks – your fresh and loyal customers do, too! Surprise long-term or new customers with these treats and they will return the favor by spreading the news around their off- and online social circles.

5. Make it simple and easy

Websites are designed to be as simple as possible for the user, allowing intuitive shopping and an easy experience. Finding critical information, such as shipping, pricing, and return policies, should be just as simple. Make sure this information is displayed prominently and is easy to find for the customer. Above all, include ways to get a hold of a customer service representative, as well as all active company social media platforms.

In addition, make returns easy! Companies committed to easy returns saw reciprocal loyalty from customers. Customer-friendly return policies enhance brand image without necessarily leading to an increased number of returns. Combining this option with online pre-sales support, such as live chats and enhanced product pages, can be instrumental in reducing the need for returns overall.

6: Radio silence

Occasionally, it is best to not respond at all. For example, if someone makes a personal attack on you without any relevance, or gets upset over a new campaign, it is best to just let it lie. You cannot respond to everyone, so make sure to choose your battles carefully.

Webcare is the art of knowing how to respond and when to respond. If you make the right decisions, it can enhance your brand and customer loyalty; take a wrong step, and it could have the opposite consequences. While customer service is frequently viewed as a cost of doing business, try and see it as the secret weapon to strengthening customer appreciation and growing repeat sales. Every satisfied customer is another positive experience, radiating through the social web!

The rise of social media has given way to some unlikely uses for businesses: attracting new customers, posting the latest and greatest from your company, and…interacting and building relationships with current consumers?

Yes, that is true – more and more businesses are seeing social media as a way to strengthen and deepen bonds with customers. They use social media to publicly help and solve any problems users encounter, leading to increases in customer trust. Customer service is constantly evolving to keep up with the ever-changing scope of communication, and using social media for instant customer access is the latest chapter in this ongoing struggle.

Customers prefer this method as well, saving them from dealing with the traditional challenges of getting in touch with a representative, such as:

  • Finding the number for customer service, and dealing with automated messages, a long wait time.
  • Submitting a contact form without knowing when anyone will be in touch, if the message went through, or to whom it is sent.
  • Sending an email with the same impersonal experience.

In comparison, some advantages of using social media for customer service:

1. Immediate communication

The internet age has given rise to a sense of immediacy as a right, not a privilege. This means when someone has a problem, they expect to talk to someone right now, not a response tomorrow or waiting on hold for 30 minutes.

Using social media means you can communicate with your customers the minute they have an issue. As soon as someone mentions your brand, or makes a post on your Facebook, the admin will receive a notice. The team/member should be ready with responses as quickly as possible, as lagging behind could produce additional issues – but if they can get back to the customer within a few minutes, the immediacy goes a long way in creating brand loyalty and lasting customer relations.

2. Transparency

This goes two ways. A customer that is upset wants vindication, and allowing their complaints to be posted and seen over social media lets them feel they are being heard. This public airing of grievances gives them the feeling of control.

For your company, this transparency applies to how you handle the problem, and how quickly. You are able to actively demonstrate your customer service abilities and loyalty to customers – leading other followers to feel more at ease with your company.

3. A branded experience

In general, people prefer dealing with other people, not corporations or chatbots. With a live human at your social media helm, this gives customers a chance to get responses from an individual, while actively interacting with your brand. It is the best of both worlds!

Additionally, social media lets you present your responses after consideration, and in a conversational tone. It humanizes your brand, making you more appealing and relatable to customers.

4. Up your mentions

Increased interactions with customers leads to increased amounts of communication pointing back to your brand. The extra attention online means more potential customers will see your brand mentioned on social media. The visibility from solving problems on social media will highlight your accessibility and effective problem-solving methods. When in doubt, post links back to your page for more information.

No matter how you handle questions and issues, the increased brand mentions will help garner more activity, brand visibility, and help your SEO rankings.

5. Simpler follow-up

This depends slightly on how long the problem takes to fix, but generally you will be able to check in with the customer afterwards for a quick follow-up. You should ask whether your previous interaction was helpful or not, and if not, you have an opportunity to take further action. If this was a helpful interaction, you will then have a visible positive from the customer on social media. If necessary, you can send a private message later to make sure they are satisfied.

6. Social users talk

People who are active on social media, and who would use it for customer service issues, are more likely to socialize. This means more frequent posts and more friends to see them – including posts and interactions with your company. If you respond to these people in a timely and helpful manner, you spread a positive view of your company with their entire network of potential customers.

From Spotify to Netflix, Amazon to Yelp24, the world is becoming automated. It is increasingly rare to have to interact with another human being, as most products and services are available to purchase via technology. Even customer service agents are available for online chats, or through automated programs that will call you back at a convenient time.

This technology boosts efficiency, and provides instant supply in the face of customer demands. It also lets you lead visitors and customers through a personalized experience, leading them to feel more invested in your company. Automation is being used like never before – it is the only way to continue to keep up with expectations.

Although mastering automation is essential for starting and growing your business, to take it to the next level you have to expand your focus. You must commit to keeping your efforts personal, especially on a marketing level. Even though the world is using technology to streamline every aspect of life, at the end of the day people like doing business with other people.

Research supports it: according to a recent guide published by Provide Support, 70 percent of buying experiences are still based on how the customers feel they are being treated. Moreover, 67 percent of customers have hung up the phone, frustrated they could not talk to a real person.

Clearly, as a business owner you have to remember to keep the human side of your operations up to date and equal in importance while you adopt and integrate new processes. No matter how you change and streamline your business, the way you interact, sell to, onboard, and market to your leads and customers matters.

Useful Tools for Keeping It Personal

There are many tools available that both help you automate, and continue to give your customers the personalized experience they want and demand. Not all tools are created equally, so think carefully about your needs when choosing one. The main objective is to make your customers feel acknowledged, appreciated, and heard.

I have picked out the four that do the best job of automating as well as keeping things personal. Here are my picks:

1. Intercom

Intercom makes talking to customers effortless. This tool shows you who is using your product, but moreover makes it a cinch to talk to them through targeted, behavior-driven email and in-app messaging. With the app in place, you can talk to any one of your customers in a matter of seconds – and send a personalized message to get them the help they need. It is a wonderful tool that makes personalization easy while scaling.

2. Streak

Streak is a CRM tool with Gmail. It is a way to connect with people who may be interested in sharing your content. It allows you to automate your emails but still address recipients by name, and change other relevant details. This extension also sends emails one by one, creating a more personal bond with your customers.

3. MailLift

MailLift is a handwritten letter service for sales professionals and marketing teams. With MailLift, you set a template, select recipients, and customize any additional details to make your handwritten letter stand out. Then, an actual person writes your letter and sends it out on your behalf. Especially during times of saying thanks, nothing says it like a handwritten – or hand addressed – letter. Your customers will feel even closer to you!

4. Buffer

Buffer is a social media managing tool. You schedule, publish, and analyze all your posts in one place. It is unlike other social media tools in that it makes it easy to confirm you are actually tagging the right people in the tweets you schedule to publish at a later time – which makes it seem like someone from your team is present and interacting with followers on your social media.

Additional Strategies to Keep It Personal

1. Ditch automated “no reply” emails and replace them with someone from your team. Your customers will love the ability to get in touch with a human.

2. Send personalized, handwritten notes to new customers. Go the extra mile; show them they are valued.

3. Pay attention to and respond to your social analytics. Before you automate your social media management, you should know when your followers are active.

4. Always make solving customer problems your ultimate goal, from the minute they engage. You can convert people if you can help them.

5. Be transparent. When customers know the people and faces behind the company, it sets you apart from the competition and raises their loyalty.

6. Give customers a variety of ways to contact you. Make sure your customers know where they can go to find a real human to help them.

One of the most important tactical parts of your strategy is your email marketing. With marketing automation, relevance is crucial, and is provided by timely targeted emails to your leads.

You can break down the types of emails you will need to send into five categories, which can be combined to form various courses: nurturing series, basic email marketing courses, and new lead identification programs. To understand and be successful with each email variable, you need to breakdown how each is created and executed:

1. Autoresponders

Emailed content sent directly after an action is performed – for example, submitting a form online. These help you ensure the submitted information is correct.

Use: Twofold: ensures you have the correct, working email address, and reinforces your brand with the individual.

Aim: A click through by your contact! You will be sending a URL, not a PDF. You want to make sure this email works, and start tracking their engagement.

Execution: A wide range of options are available, but stick with your company brand. This does not mean company branding, but intent. A financial management company might send a professional email created in HTML, while a tech company would probably prefer something in Rich Text format (RTF).

Keep in mind, because this email is requested by the recipient, you will most likely have extremely high engagement levels. Keep this in mind while forming your various programs.

Subject: Reference the recent action taken, make it clear this was requested, and avoid company branding.

Sender: Two options, and you decide: either it comes from your company or the marketing division, or it can come from an individual. This depends on your overall strategy; are you selling credibility? Or building a personal relationship?

Bonus: If the content requested supports the sales cycle, consider offering, in addition to the requested asset, a second link for the next step in the cycle.

2. Sales Nurturing

These emails help your sales team scale their efforts according to response, and create long-term email programs so your company stays in front of leads for long sales cycles.

Use: Helping your sales team gauge their efforts, and let them know when to reach out.

Goal: A click through on the emailed link.

Execution: This is a very specific kind of email that recreates a sales person’s normal pitch. This means they should be sent in RTF, with a signature, and kept short – about 3 sentences maximum. For each piece of content about your company, include three that are not.

Subject: Something innocuous, such as “Following up on our last conversation” or “Thought you might like this”

Sender: This should come from the sales person’s email.

Bonus: If a lead engages with a nurturing email, your sales person will automatically be alerted via the marketing automation platform. This helps create a bond between marketing and sales, and increases conversions with hardly any effort!

3. Shared Content

These help your sales team stay in front of leads, even though they are not yet sales-ready. Similar but slightly different from the sales nurturing emails.

Use: Driving brand engagement!

Goal: Click through(s) by the lead.

Execution: Very short: 3 sentences maximum! Again, should be in RTF (not HTML), which helps diffuse the lead’s annoyance at a marketing email. This makes it seem as if it is coming from an individual rather than a marketing system.

Subject: Remember that this is not a sales email; you are educating. Keep your subject in line with that goal – for example, “Found this article very helpful” or “Thought you would enjoy”

Sender: You could use company or individual, but these do better from an individual.

Bonus: Again: this is content that educates! Try to integrate third-party content as well as your own, and make sure anything you send is evergreen (continues to be relevant long past publication). Use all content to further your campaign goals.

4. Invitational

Invite leads to events, special campaigns, or webinars. These are highly effective in driving attendance to B2B events.

Use: Raise attendance at an event.

Goal: The lead registers attendance.

Execution: HTML. This is generally sent out in a group, rather than individually. To increase engagement, make sure your email list is extremely targeted. Give two options: to sign up for the live event or receive a recording after.

Subject: Bring attention to the event, and that this is an invitation. Focus on the topic and speaker.

Sender: Either corporate or individual – use your judgment, and take your brand into account. If sending two emails, make the first from corporate and the follow-up from individual.

Bonus: Track the open rate; even though actual attendance may only be 30 percent, by tracking engagement you can see who had initial interest – and can send them the slides.

5. Identifier

When you receive leads at trade shows or webinar registrations, you might not know where in the sales cycle they fall.

Use: To identify where a lead is in the buyers’ cycle.

Goal: A self-selection into a stage of the buyers’ cycle by direct click through.

Execution: Offer various messages that lead to different stages, and see when your prospect reacts. You can either use hyper-targeted email subject lines or make multiple offers in the email. Keep this email very short.

Subject: If using subject lines to be the driver, try for 3 stages:

– Stage 1: No brand or keyword mention.
“Have you read this?” or “New research from Opportunity”

– Stage 2: Use brand OR keywords.
“Case study on increasing SEO by [your keyword]” or “How [client] gained 200 percent ROI by using [your brand]”

– Stage 3: Use both!
“[Your company] is best at [your keywords]” or “Forrester ranks [your brand] at the top of [your keyword]”

Sender: Individual.

Bonus: Try using the Choose Your Own Adventure technique to move leads through the process more quickly: if using subject line from stage 1, insert links to both Stage 1 and Stage 2 in the email body, and see where the lead engages.