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Social media customer service

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SOCIAL media is no longer something that business can afford to ignore; it has become a great tool for customer service. Companies must now have best practices to handle complaints and grow brands online. A social media bleep or blunder can ruin the image of a company if not properly managed.

SUCCESS LIFE: JONAH NYONI

Traditional media is losing its flair even though some people might be in denial. Social media is increasingly starting to affect brands and businesses in the developing world. It should, therefore, follow that social media be considered an essential part of the overall communication agenda which should be pursued with all the intrinsic energy of a business if economies are to realise their full potential.

What is social media? The Webster Dictionary defines social media as “forms of electronic communication (such as websites for social networking and microblogging) through which users create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages, and other content (such as videos)”.

I the past one had to wait on the journalist to provide them with news, but now we are seeing a new breed of social media journalists. The power of social media should never be under estimated. It was seen in Zimbabwe when Pastor Evan Mawarire sparked a #ThisFlag movement in 2016.

Research has shown that in developing countries such as South Africa and Zimbabwe, there is increased usage of social media as a communication platform among the people. The statistics in South Africa show phenomenal growth in the usage of Facebook, Whatsapp, YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.

In Zimbabwe social media has outpaced the traditional media: the newspaper, radio and television. Zimbabwe has one television station whose content is not of the best of standards. This discourages advertising on this media because the reach is low and yet the price of advertising remains costly. So companies should embrace social media to grow business. Even politicians have seen the power of social media and instead of crowding on one TV station they use their social media to pour out their feelings and a good example is Professor Jonathan Moyo.

The Zimbabwean national census of 2012 indicated that 55% of Zimbabweans are between 15 and 64 years with the majority of that group falling in the 15 to 44 years age group. This indicates a young population which is generally more engaged with social media. It is against this background that social media should be explored as a possible tool for communication for the brands in Zimbabwe. Special social media studies should be included in college and university studies. Social media can help accomplish the advertising objectives of the businesses at less cost. Secondly, social media is a tool that must be used to address customer complaints and needs.

Customers are now used to improved customer service levels in business because they use the internet to see what the world is offering. The mass marketing model is fast becoming extinct. Sales are getting lower and lower with this kind of marketing. Empowered customers have more demanding expectations.

A firm’s ability to offer its customers digital interactions is no longer a unique differentiator but rather a basic requirement to meet the needs of the modern customer. The news now follows the customer. The customer does not have to go out of his way to find news. It is right within his or her reach. Social networking sites have provided business with new and efficient ways of reaching deeply into their target to communicate.

It is in this light that this article is aimed at bringing awareness of the huge possibilities that social media has as a customer care model of a business in order to promote awareness, increase usage and the offering of choices to potential markets. It is hoped that clear cut policies can be recommended for uptake and use as companies should now have a social media plan.

Most companies have the tendency to have tech say individual monitoring their social media, that is not enough as they must be trained in basic customer care. In an article by Nishith Gupta titled, 4 Best Practices For Social Media Customer Service says: “You might have a whole team of social media experts, one designated person or even just a handful of interns that handle your social media postings and monitoring. Regardless of how much experience they have in social media, they need to be trained on customer service 101, no question. Companies often make the mistake of leaving their social media accounts in the hands of tech savvy folks, but the truth is, they need to be every bit as customer-centric as your front desk or phone reps.”

Jonah Nyoni is an author, success coach and certified leadership/business trainer. He is the author of Inspiration for Success and Success Within Reach. Contact details: Tel: 0772 581 918. Email: jonah@classicmail.co.za. Twitter@jonahnyoni.

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