If you could paint a portrait of your company what would it look like? Better yet, if you could have the world’s best photographer come and take a snap shot of what your company entails what would the negatives show?

Just like describing yourself in five words, imagining your company in one image or even word can be daunting. Presenting yourself in a social media platform does not mean boiling down the meaning of your company into one image but it does mean clarifying and condensing  that image. One of the truly remarkable facets of social media is that it can help in “creating a personality for your company and [in] giving your business a face.” Like a brand, or logo, or that elusive imaginary photograph, social media can help determine how people see your company and, in turn, what message they will spread about your company.

Using customer relationship management (CRM) allows companies to positively influence what people will say about their company. In English this comes down to opening a line of communication between your business and your clients, creating a space where customers can bring comments and complaints, and finally establishing a route by which repairs, changes, and improvements can be made. CRM through social media allows you to eclipse traditional customer service. Many large companies are succeeding in starting up this process. Target, Delta, Dell Computers, and Southwest, to name a few, all have great social media sites. Yet many companies only turn toward social media as a last resort and usually because of the complete failure of traditional customer service outlets. As a result, many are still not providing true customer service on their social media sites.  For example, Delta in addressing an issue via Twitter failed to provide the customer with a concrete timeline. This could eventually lead to customers losing faith in the social media sites and the company itself. Being involved in communicating with customers through social media provides you with an insight that many other CEOs and managers would typically never be privy to. Social media gives company leaders easy access to what is being said about their company. Customer complaints are at your fingertips and at any moment you can jump in and change the conversation.

Using social media sites like Twitter and Facebook can provide an easy and efficient way to help customers. Bank of America has a great Twitter page set up with staff that work solely on responding to customer complaints.  While Eurail.com has won an award from Mashable.com for the best social media customer service. Their Facebook page is a platform where people can post questions, stories, and even pictures; not to mention that it is a hub of information regarding timetables and maps.

Their success is based on four principles outlined in Social Media Today: responsiveness, complaints, praise, and quick resolution. Great customer relationship management means having a consistent reply time and actually being able to resolve problems. It also means that negative comments are decreasing and positive comments are increasing. The former can definitely lead to the prior with just a little dedication and transparency.

Show the good and the bad. Negative feedback will be out in the open for all to see, but a quick turnaround can change the story from a tragedy to a success. Using social media for customer service can help you develop a persona for you company– one that people will gladly recommend to others.

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