Mike McGrail, owner of Velocity Digital, explains why being Proactive is vital for businesses to provide great customer service, sharing with us his experience with Heinekin on Twitter.
The power of using social media to interact with your customers is well known, however and perhaps surprisingly, the number of brands, businesses etc that are being pro-active with their approach to customer service via social media is far too low.
When you take a look around the social web, lets say Twitter, you'll see many users tweeting brands etc with questions, comments and dare I say, complaints. That is all well and good (assuming the brand is actually responding), however, when the brand engages with the customer off the back of one of these interactions, they are being re-active. The best case scenario is when a brand is pro-active - i.e. they look for opportunities to interact with, help and build rapport with their customers (or indeed, prospects).
The social web is like a giant ear
While many just use the social web to talk, talk, talk, it really should be used as much for listening as talking. It is very simple to listen out for mentions of your brand or business. Take a standard twitter search, for example and type in a brand name - you'll see results come back. This tends to be the case for larger brands, but you can use this type of search (best to switch to 'advanced' search) to find tweets relevant to your business, regardless of the size or location. Take a look at those tweets and act on them!
I recently attended an event, on the way in to the event, there were a number of drinks available, I decided to grab a rather cool looking bottle of Heineken. As a fan of beer, I often tweet a pic of any interesting beers/bottles etc I come across, I did exactly that in this case... 'Rather cool aluminium bottle of Heineken. #beer.'
Nothing spectacular about the tweet or the picture. I liked the bottle so I tweeted it. Notice I didn't even use a Heineken related Twitter username.
The next day...
I received a tweet from @Heineken_UK
From there we had a quick chat about the bottles and they informed me that there would be further limited edition releases in the future. Why I am writing about this? It impressed me. They are clearly listening to Twitter chatter about the brand and that little tweet they sent me made me feel appreciated. The chat that followed also alerted me to the fact that there would be further bottles being released - I will genuinely look out for them now and if I do find one, will most likely tweet about it again. One very quick piece of work from the brand and they have endeared themselves to a consumer of their product, created a potential future sale and increased the chances of me creating further content for them. Very simple yet very effective.
What else can I do with listening?
Clearly Heineken is a massive brand, but what about a smaller, local business? How about searching for people that are visiting your town/city and send them a welcome tweet? Use simple searches such as the hashtag for your city. This approach endears your business to the user and if you are a service-based business, say a cafe, may well create business. Be careful not to sell hard, just say hello and be helpful if possible. Time to start listening people!
Have you had a great pro-active experience with a brand via social media recently? Please do share in the comments below.