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Sheri Hebbeln
 
November 26, 2014 | Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Demand Generation , eCommerce | Sheri Hebbeln

Using social media as a customer service outlet

Being able to provide support for consumers is critical, whether through traditional means or social media. Many people are using smartphones and other mobile devices to communicate with businesses.  There are new ways of reaching out to existing customers through the use of Facebook and Twitter. Social media outlets present a unique opportunity for wineries to speak directly to customers in a way that is convenient for them.

A case for superior service
There are many good reasons to make active use of social media platforms for assisting customers. People who like the customer service they receive will come back just as much as if they like the wine: A survey conducted by tech firm Buffer showed 50 percent of respondents who had a positive experience with customer service would buy from the company again. Consumers who have pleasant experiences means that they'll have a stronger connection with you and are likely to buy from you again.

More importantly, the speed in which inquiries are handled with social media is far more expedient, according to Forbes. Usually, emails take a lot of time to actually read and sort through, so it may take hours before someone actually sees a customer complaint and responds to it. A tweet, however, will show up on a service agent's screen much more quickly. The shortness of the message usually means that you'll be to know exactly what is happening within a second or two of reading it, allowing you to take quick action to resolve the situation. More importantly, it shows that you're being transparent as possible customers. Giving consumers some sense of control over their order makes them feel more comfortable with the experience.

Most importantly, though, you are capable of establishing a bit of camaraderie with the consumer. This presents itself in two ways: You're able to follow-up with them with the sense that you understand where they're coming from, and they feel like they're not being corralled through a series of hoops and obstacles just to get what they want.

Building the brand
One of the great reasons that you should use social media as a place to provide customer service is that it strengthens your winery's position and influence. The same Buffer survey noted 71 percent of people who had a positive experience with social media-based customer service would recommend the company to friends. In addition, they're likely to talk about the experience through the same outlet, which provides additional exposure to followers and visitors who happen to be reading a specific feed. That pays dividends in the form of new customers.

There are also indirect positive effects of working with customers through social media. In many cases, your winery gets mentioned in the social media outlet more often. You can use this opportunity to direct people to different links on your wine website, such as a new product customers may be interested in. Consequently, this becomes the type of link exchange that boosts search engine optimization rankings. That results in consumers looking up your winery through organic search more easily and visiting your site far more often, leading to more sales.

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