Are You Missing the Boat? Only 23% of Businesses Use Facebook for Customer Service

When it comes to marketing, savvy businesses know to go where the customers go. These days, customers are on Facebook. But, according to a recent study by MarketTools, only 23 percent of businesses use Facebook for customer relations. According to MarketTools’ Karin Adams, businesses aren’t utilizing a valuable tool in reaching customers.

“Companies are increasingly embracing social media as a way to interact with their customers, though they are missing an opportunity to incorporate this feedback into a voice of the customer program,” Adams said.

Interaction is an important part of having a social media presence. Your business’s Facebook fans want more than the occasional notice about specials. By putting a face behind the company profile, you personalize your customers’ online experience, which makes them more likely to see you as a customer-friendly experience.

The survey also asked how often a company’s CEO participates in his or her company’s social media sites. Only 22 percent of businesses reported a CEO’s regular participation in social media on behalf of his or her company, with most of that participation being on Facebook. While it’s not necessary that the head of your small business to regularly log in and post responses and comments, an occasional interaction can help show customers your business cares about its customers, and that this concern goes all the way to the top.

Social media strategist Mack Collier has gained attention by encouraging CEOs to think like a rock star. “Note what rock stars do,” Collier shared at the Social Media Integration Conference. “They focus on the people that already love them… this group has a strong degree of loyalty for the rock star.  So much so, that they will go out and actively recruit people from the other groups to the left to come join them.”

When businesses integrate this type of thinking into marketing efforts, they gather new customers by nurturing existing customers. Dell Computers’ Facebook interaction is a great example of this. Not only does Dell post regular updates about specials and new product releases, a representative of the company interacts with commenters to its post, even addressing those commenters by name.

As social media becomes even more of a force in today’s Internet-driven world, consumers are not only appreciating businesses interacting on Facebook, but they are growing to expect it. In fact, Conversocial, a software-based business that helps businesses manage social media commenting, conducted a recent survey that found 88 percent of consumers would be less likely to buy from a business that ignored customer service comments on social media sites.

That same study also showed that nearly a third of respondents had been ignored when posting customer service-oriented comments to businesses’ social media sites. While constant interaction may seem impossible, especially for smaller businesses without staff to dedicate to updating social media pages, neglecting to respond to negative comments can be extremely detrimental to your online reputation. Not only does this make the complaining customer feel neglected, it appears to everyone who reads the comment that nobody is listening.

As 2012 begins, think about your social media sites. Are you participating as much as you should? And, more importantly, are you missing a valuable chance to improve customer relations on a widespread basis?

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About Stephanie Faris

Stephanie is a freelance writer and young adult/middle grade novelist, who worked in information systems for more than a decade. Her first book, 30 Days of No Gossip, will be released by Simon and Schuster in spring 2014. She lives in Nashville with her husband.

  • Mark Anthony Germanos

    My wife and I shop at a local big box retailer. We
    established two accounts there back in February 2004.  We have been happy with them for most of that
    timespan. However, events last year almost drove me to cancel our membership.

    I usually pay our bills in person. I visit the local store
    and give them our two statements with two checks. Staff usually applies my
    check to my account and my wife’s check to her account. They have done this
    correctly for years. I thought this was a rather simple task for staff.

    I was wrong. Last summer, staff repeatedly applied both
    checks to my wife’s account. She ended up with credit balances and I ended up
    with past due balances, late fees, and interest. This did not make sense to me.
    I worked with staff at the local store to reapply the payments correctly and
    remove the penalties. I thought this was a done deal. I was wrong.

    On December 4, 2010, I visited the local store, filled my
    shopping cart with $188 worth of items, and tried purchasing them. The clerk
    told me my account was closed. I visited the service desk and was notified that
    although my membership was valid, my credit account had been closed. She called
    their 800 number and handed me the phone, and I was informed that they closed
    my account due to a “business decision.” I hung up and went home.

    I can make “business decisions” too. I decided to launch a
    Facebook flame campaign against them. How could the big box retailer close an
    account on someone who has paid his bills on time every month since early 2004?
    How could they close an account that has a $0 balance? 
    How can they close an
    account on someone whose credit score is in the 99th percentile?
    This was downright stupid.

    I sat at my computer and opened Facebook.com. I thought, “Maybe
    I can complain at their Facebook page and see if anybody there responds.” I found
    a product page for them and wrote my complaint. This was Saturday night.

    Within two hours, a Facebook user responded and identified
    herself as a big box representative. She asked for my name, phone, and
    membership number. She said someone would contact me within a few days.

    On Monday morning, I received a call from another representative
    informing me that she would be assisting me with the credit issue I reported on
    their Facebook page. That afternoon, I received a call from a third representative
    who asked me for more info and then reopened the account. This call came in at
    2:45. She reopened the account within 10 minutes.

    The next day, the second representative called and asked if
    everything was settled to my satisfaction. I visited my local store that Tuesday
    afternoon, bought something on my credit account, and reported that yes,
    everything was resolved to my satisfaction.

    The big box retailer turned the situation around within one
    business day. I was angered by their credit agent’s stupidity and wrote a
    concise Facebook post showing how they angered a long-term member. Somebody
    monitored that page on a Saturday night. Somebody else responded further on
    Monday morning. Somebody else fixed the issue on Monday afternoon.

    I am once again thoroughly satisfied with this big box
    retailer. Their ability to fix this situation made them a hero in my book.
    Their embracing of social media makes them a hero in this book.

    I believe this answers the question “Will social media help me retain
    current customers?”*****

    Mark Anthony Germanos is the author of two books, Escape the Cubicle: How to leave your corporate or government job for
    something better and How to Make
    Computer Systems Work for You. Mark is the President of Cameron Park
    Computer Services. As a small business owner and computer networking
    consultant, he has seen habits that successful companies embrace. He helps his
    clients embrace those habits to increase their profits, efficiency and
    happiness. Mark feels those who embrace cloud computing, social media campaigns
    and QR Codes give themselves a comparative advantage over those who lag behind.
    Mark moved from Chicago and restarted his business in California with a cell
    phone and a Honda Civic. An active triathlete, he has a life, a dream wife and
    a dog. For additional details, visit http://markanthonygermanos.com. Twitter: http://twitter.com/markgermanos. Facebook: http://facebook.com/fixyourbusiness. LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/markgermanos.

     

    • http://Smallbiztechnology.com Ramon Ray

      Mark, thanks so much for sharing this with us!