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What is your customer engagement style?

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    With so many modes of contact between customers and businesses, even the most organised of us can disregard the company ‘style’ when using some of the more social connections. How often are you checking your Twitter replies? Do you allow people to write on your Facebook wall? Not only do these questions need to be answered, but you must consider who is responding to your customers and how they are doing so. Social connections can also play a big part in your SEO and internet marketing mix.

    Customer engagement is more than just greeting your customers by name and being pleasant on the phone. If you have a Facebook, Twitter account or any other type of forum for customers to leave comments, then you need to figure out what ‘voice’ to use when you engage with them.

    Customer engagement

    Look at your industry

    The first thing to think about is the type of industry you are in. A take away food shop isn’t going to talk to their customers the same way a large public company would. Make sure your content voice aligns with your company, your branding, your attitude and what goals you have for your social connections. You don’t want to alienate existing or potential customers, because as you may know, if you say something on the internet, it will come back to haunt or celebrate you in the future. Work out what you want from social networking, and create a presence that reflects you and your company.

    Whose job is it anyway?

    In 2009, a ‘rogue’ Domino’s employee made a video of the disgusting habits of staff in one of their USA stores, uploaded it to YouTube and destroyed the credibility of the brand as it went viral. Thankfully the CEO, armed with his PR team and SEO provider, went into reputation management mode and order was restored.

    While you won’t always have control over people from the ‘outside’ who want to harm you, you can control who is in charge of officially engaging with customers. Whether it’s yourself, or a trusted customer service employee that has the right touch, you need to be aware of how complaints, compliments and comments are handled on your social networks. Bad language and grammar can turn customers off, as can late replies or ignoring them completely. Think about whether your voice is the voice of the brand; that is, faceless, or if you have a personality whom will represent you.

    What is your message?

    This builds on and combines the two points made previously; what is your company style, and who are we talking to and why? Some companies use Twitter and Facebook to spread promotions and competitions, while others use them to update customers on product updates and industry news. Less formal organisations will engage customers with games and quizzes. If you have a blog or community forum, think about what the aim of the conversation is, as you may well want something different to what you would reveal or say on Twitter for example.

    As any business owner knows, reputation management is an ever growing responsibility. Choosing to connect with your customers online can be a great way to let them know that you value their business and feedback, but if the engagement falls into the wrong hands, or if you aren’t clear about your message, you could be wasting your time, if not hurting what you have already cultivated. Treat your customer engagement in social media the same way you would speaking to them in person or on the phone, in a professional, respectful way that reflects you and your company.

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