This is a common question people and companies often ask when I speak with them about the importance of social media as part of their business model. It’s a fair one, and perhaps one of the hardest to answer in a meaningful way. There are all sorts of responses we can cue up that are perfectly acceptable, “Social media offers business intelligence and insights into your product and that of your competitors”, “Social media gives your brand a personable approach to speak with your Customers”, and the ever faithful, “Customers are talking about you already, why not join the conversation”? For the folks out there in business land with a little creativity or personal use of social media that usually sparks off some fun conversations.

What about the logical mathematic types? There are a few answers for them as well. They have to take a different approach and provide examples. A good example to start with is ‘reach’. In traditional Customer service, a call center for example, service agents can only speak with one Customer at a time. Their ‘reach’ is 1:1. In social media, that reach is multiplied by the number of Customers that follow your pages because each one of them can read your message at the same time. If your brand’s Twitter page has 1000 followers, each tweet you send now has a potential reach of 1:1000. Instead of having a phone agent give the same information to 1 person 1000 times, they can craft 1 tweet that can help 1000 Customers. The return on investment in time is greater in social media for that 1 agent.

A continued concern is the fact social media is a public-facing communications channel. Everything an agent says on a company’s social media page is laid bare for the world to see. These are true statements. Social media is a test of your company’s commitment to the Customer experience and how thankful you should be to have Customers to serve. If a brand manager ever has a concern about telling a Customer something in the open space of social media, there are deeper issues at hand than deciding to open a new channel of communication. Stop me if you’ve heard this one, “I can’t trust the reputation of my company to the lowest paid employees, I can’t trust them to make the right statements.” There shouldn’t be a question of trust in the employees working for your Customers on your behalf or the validity of what they are telling your Customers. They have accepted the responsibility of working for you in exchange for their compensation. Agents have received the training you have provided. Why shouldn’t you leverage their professionalism and care in a public forum? Employees should be the greatest ambassadors a company could ever hope for. If they aren’t, don’t get involved in social media, spend the time to rebuild your internal culture first.

So, what’s the point? The point is social media provides the opportunity to engage with Customers in a timely manner that is both open and in a way they feel comfortable. Remember, Customers are admitting they use your services when they reach out to you for support. This means they are already talking about you to their personal networks. Why not join the conversation and provide added value to their financial support of your company?

Not sure where to start your social media Customer support journey? Let’s connect! At SocialPath Solutions we help our Clients improve social media engagement and service through our consulting services and hosted social response teams.