Talking to Your Customers on Social Media

Posted by Jen Ochej on June 4, 2013

If you’re in any kind of customer service-related work you know that it’s vitally important to know how to talk to (and about!) customers. Most people learn those lessons early on, and understand what is and isn’t okay.

From making chitchat with the little old lady who stops in each week to buy her bread and milk, to dealing with the (hopefully rare) customer who seems set on making your life difficult, and everything in between, it behooves the smart business owner or employee to give careful consideration to interactions with patrons.

As more and more businesses have begun using social media to communicate with their customers, though, it’s become apparent that some folks might need a new lesson in what’s appropriate and what’s not when talking to customers online.

Read on for our top tips:

Talk to them like you’re a real human being (because you are).

When people come into your physical business, do you ignore everything they’re saying and just repeat your current advertisement or quote company slogans and policies? No? Well, then you shouldn’t do it online either.

One of the great dangers for companies using social media is that they see it only as another form of advertising, where they can get their message out there. The problem with that, of course, is that they’re missing the social part of social media. It’s meant to be a conversation! Feel free to chat with your customers, answer their questions, and even joke around—especially if you’re a small local business. No one comes to your shop to be treated like they’re at Wal-Mart, and they don’t follow you on social media for that reason either.  Let them see you as a real person.

Don’t complain about them.

Restaurants all over Canada and the US have been making headlines recently by complaining about their customers on Twitter. From non-specific, passive-aggressive posts about a lingering table, to actually naming names when people bail on their reservations, they’re getting vocal about the things that patrons are doing wrong, and to an increasingly large audience.

A good rule of thumb? Just don’t do it. Don’t complain about your customers on social media, period. Whether or not that specific person follows you, it creates a bad image for your company and makes people stop and think twice about what you might say about them if they ever do something wrong. No one wants to be friends with the person who trash talks everyone else, and no one wants to patronize the business that does either.

Thank them for coming in.

While it’s true that social media has become a forum for customer complaints, it’s also often the first place people will go when they’ve had a positive experience, too. Whether it’s a specific compliment or just a report that they stopped by your shop or restaurant, take a quick second to reply and thank them for coming in. The simple acknowledgement and gratitude will go a long way toward making them a repeat customer!

The bottom line:

All too often people seem to think that the rules are different online, or that somehow being behind a computer means that there are no consequences to what you say.  Talk to, and about, your customers pretty much exactly how you would if you were talking to them face to face. It sounds simple, and it is.