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27/03/2013 by
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Why Open Dialogue Is Essential For Successful Customer Services

Open dialogues are essential and social media lends itself fantastically to customer services and many companies out there have embraced the technology to build long lasting relationships with their target markets.

pond1 500x333 Why Open Dialogue Is Essential For Successful Customer Services

But you have to do more than simply answering their questions, it’s about having an open dialogue and listening to your customers.

In Mid-November last year Time magazine ran a feature entitled Social Media Users Expect Great Customer Service – no massive surprise there, but the statistics they reported further solidified the belief that an internet-savvy audience use social media not only to connect with businesses but to talk about them too.

Regular Updates and Interactions

An open dialogue means engaging with your social media accounts every day in a range of different ways. Pottery Barn’s social media efforts are a great example.

On Facebook they have over 1,100,000 fans with anything up to 20,000 people talking about the brand at any one time. How do they garner such attention?

They interact with their audience daily, from updating their wall, using sticky media such as pictures and video, and they enter into discussions with their fans, answering questions with prompt replies, ‘Liking’ relevant comments and changing their cover image.

When companies update their online profiles regularly they spot negative feedback, or customer qualms much more quickly and can there respond swiftly.

Non-Brand Related Conversation

A key point in engaging with your audience is to regularly do so on their terms, which means discussing topics that might not be brand or industry related.

No follower or fan enjoys being marketed to 24/7, brands that just promote their products and services on social media have missed the whole point.

Pottery Barn’s Facebook updates aren’t restricted to company-only news or the advertising of new products.

For example, in America last month the 23rd is national pie day, in order to celebrate Pottery Barn posted a photo on their wall of a delectable looking raspberry pie, with the question – “Whether you bake or buy, what’s your favorite kind?” After just one day more than 1,600 fans had ‘Liked’ the image.

To interact with your audience organically there will be times when businesses have to talk about non-brand related subject matter. Building a lively community around your brand will require more than dialogue and content than simply promotional topics.

Go Beyond Dialogue And The Call Of Duty

Going above and beyond the call of duty is what customer services is all about.

Last year when Zappos customer Jameson Brown couldn’t find a certain pair of Converse sneakers in the stock of the online retail site the company’s customer service team looked elsewhere for him.

Zappos1 Why Open Dialogue Is Essential For Successful Customer Services

Zappos2 Why Open Dialogue Is Essential For Successful Customer Services

Yes, not only did they help him find a product that they couldn’t provide, they did it via their competitors and other similar retailers.

This clearly demonstrates that Zappos genuinely value authentic connections with their audience, instead of viewing every interaction as a potential sale.

Fortunately Jameson Brown is an expert in social media who soon posted on the Social Media Today blog about his experience.

This is why brands need have an open dialogue with their customer base, because more often than not, when your customers have a great experience with your brand, they will tell their friends about it.

This could be traditional word of mouth, or online where word of mouth travels around the globe in seconds.

What About You?
What great examples of open dialogue would you like to share with our readers? I would love to see your ideas in the comments below.

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About the Author
This article was written by Barry Cooke. Barry is a social media consultant who has been working in the industry for over a decade and a half in a number of different sectors from customer services and chat apps to the finance and travel industry.

 

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Comments (1)

  • Igor Beuker 27/03/2013, 14:52

    Like in real life: joining the conversation adds value, everything else is advertising!