If you’re, ahem, of a certain generation (one in which you weren’t born with an iPod in your hand) social media can be scary. With Twitter, Facebook, Linked In, WordPress, Blogger, News Feeds, it’s all a little overwhelming. And that’s not to mention Pinterest, Four Square, Tumblr, You Tube…the list goes on. But, take heart – you can use social media outlets to your advantage. Take small steps and start with just one, say Facebook, and first set up a business account. Post a special or coupon and see what response you get. When you’re more comfortable with Facebook, set up a Twitter account and send out a “tweet” (yes, it’s really called that), about a service your firm provides. Put links to your Facebook and Twitter accounts on your web site. Voila, you’re using social media. Set up a schedule for upating your social media accounts (say every other week or every month) and you’ll be continually marketing your business.
Recently, I had a really bad experience with customer service for online purchase I made from a small retailer. Though the product I bought was touted on numerous TV shows, the web site seemed nicely done, and my payment went through smoothly and automatically via PayPal, I ended up frustrated. After my payment was taken, I never heard from the company – no email confirming my order, or thanking me for my purchase. Well, I thought, I did make a purchase on Sunday so surely by Monday I will get some information on my order and an estimated ship date. Nothing. Tuesday came and went – still nothing. By now I was panicked – what if I fell for a scam and the company doesn’t really exist? They already had my money! I called the number listed on the company’s site and got a machine. I emailed them at the address listed on their site – no response. I privately messaged them through their FaceBook page – still nothing. I publicly left a post on their FaceBook page complaining of the lack of response – nada. I then submitted their online “contact us” form. FINALLY – after calling, emailing, messaging, and posting – I got a very curt one line response with a tracking number (with no mention of how my product was being shipped – via U.S. mail, or UPS – I had to figure that out on my own). Lesson learned, I will never shop from this company again. Ever.
Moral of the story: it’s not enough to have an online presence and shopping cart. If you are going to take customers’ money 24/7, then you should be prepared to respond to them 24/7. That means that setting up automated “order confirmation” emails or automated “after hours” messages for orders that come in when you’re not available (like on weekends, holidays or in the middle of the night). Then you need to follow up with customers’ inquiries during business hours. It shouldn’t take a customer contacting you 5 ways and threatening to cancel their order and call the Better Business Bureau in order to get simple information on when to expect their merchandise.