Something every company today is aware of: if you want to figure out how your customers feel about a product or a service, one of the best ways is to use of social media. Companies that have social media pages on Facebook or accounts on Twitter are often inundated with “likes” or reposts of bulletins, but, most importantly, this is where the customers have their say.

What makes social media so useful on this end?

First of all, everyone is in it. Alright, maybe someone you know has a cousin up in the mountains who can’t quite get internet enough to have one, but approximately 7 billion users on the internet today and with over 240 million of them coming from the United States,  it’s safe to say that getting to your consumers and target audiences is done best through social networking. Almost every company out there has a page where their users could reach them via social networking, and many startup companies are going the whole nine yards and setting up shop in social networking sites completely.

Treading thin ice

Of course, while all this communication is good, the company has to remember that such a big communication line requires them to answer questions and concerns, and that it must be done in a manner that will make everybody look good and, as much as possible, alleviate any problems and stress. RingCentral Small Business Blog has recently made a RingCentral entrepreneurship post that outlines important reminders for using the customer service opportunities social networks offer. Users do not take kindly to poor customer service, especially in a message board as big as the web, where it’s incredibly easy for a disgruntled customer to make a company look bad with a single post.

Etiquette tips for communicating with your customers

  • Make a plan – Merely setting up a page through which customers can send feedback and then leaving it alone does not work. There needs to be a definite plan in terms of personnel, who can handle and manage the account, the schedule of update and bulletin postings, and the frequency of query handling.
  • Response time – While it’s impossible to answer every single customer question within 24 hours, the company must also set service standards that won’t make customers wait too long for replies to their queries. Customers respond better towards companies that respond after a reasonable period of time, making them feel that the company really cares for them.
  • Answer efficiently – If the same question appears again and again due to an incident, posting a bulletin regarding the situation is best. Answering the same question over and over individually not only irritates customers who get an alert every time someone posts on a query thread, but it also takes time away from answering other concerns outside the incident. There is no need to individually answer each question, especially if the answer can be very clearly found on the company’s site. However, if it is about a customer-specific concern or a request for a clarification of the service terms, the question is best answered as soon as possible.