How would you save money if every time you put a quarter in the slot of your piggy bank another fell out the bottom?
That’s what happens when businesses focus all their effort on gaining new customers at the expense of their current ones.
If forced to either maintain a customer base or grow a new one, it makes more sense to maintain because acquiring new customers costs more.
(Of course, choosing only one of those options is silly. Businesses wishing to grow should work to maintain and gain customers.)
Put into practice these strategies to retain customers with social media:
1. Don’t wait
News from all over the world reaches Twitter feeds and Facebook pages in an instant. It’s part of social media’s appeal and why marketers must stay on their toes. If a customer complains through social media, they expect a prompt response. Even customers saying glowing things and prospects looking for direction will like a response.
Yes, this means that you might have to fire off a tweet while you watch the big game. But taking a moment to do just that will resonate with the customer and separate you from the pack. More than 70% of all Twitter complaints go unanswered.
2. Delegate but have a plan
No one, not even the most dedicated social media manager, can stay on call 24 hours a day. Besides, sometimes that big game is just too enticing. Why not train other employees on the dos and don’ts of social media as it relates to your brand and put them to work?
In the hierarchy, one person sets the strategy, such as designating the employees who can engage customers on social media. Others spread the word about content. This strategy sets businesses (like Zappos which has a 500+ employee social media army) apart from those hopping on the social media bandwagon just for the 9 to 5.
3. Introduce a social media policy
In setting up a social media strategy like the one above, determine how many voices your company will have. Having employees speak to their expertise—whether in customer service, technical issues or sales—ensures that customers get the best answer.
Since many inquiries don’t fit squarely into one area, develop a system to ensure that the customer doesn’t get bombarded with conflicting messages. Check this database of social media policies from more than 200 companies that provide examples of strategies to implement.
4. Be personal
You made your social media accounts to engage customers. You might as well be there to say hi when they come looking. Replicate a personal interaction as best you can with your social media accounts. Having employee accounts that clearly identify their affiliation with your company and show how they can assist customers provides a more personalized experience and can soothe skeptical customers.
5. Follow through on content promises
Imagine buying a coffee maker and finding a toaster in the box. Companies must deliver on promises whether it’s for a product or the content of a newsletter or Twitter feed.
When a customer signs up for a newsletter, for example, they enter into a contract of sorts with the company that’s sending the information. Violating that contract by sending ads could confuse, frustrate and ultimately cost that company the customer.
Image: 401(K) 2013 (Creative Commons)