5 Steps To Being A Company Customers Love

I’m contacted fairly often by small business owners curious as to how they should handle this social media thing. They’re confused because they see companies that are doing it well, but they also see companies doing it horribly, horribly wrong. They want to make sure they stay on the high road and don’t anger customers in the process. They want to be a company that customers love. But how can they use social media to do that? How can they leverage social media in a way that’s not sleazy, but instead, truly shows that they’re trying to get to know and help their customers?

Here are a few ways to make customers fall in love with you through social media.

Be Accessible: When you make the investment to put resources toward social media, a big part of that should be dedicating time to be spent there. That’s what customers want to see. They want to know that if they have a concern, they can send you a message and that you’ll respond quickly. They want to see that if they mention your name + a problem, you’ll see it and get in touch with them. It doesn’t take much to monitor your brand on social media, however, the benefits are huge. To take advantage of social media, you have to be social. And that means really being there and making yourself accessible.

Create a system for handling issues: When someone reports an issue via social media, make sure it’s put into your customer service queue so the right people see it. Create your own social media command center to help you keep track of the people you’re talking to and what you’re talking to them about. As a user, there’s nothing more frustrating that having to re-explain the same problem to a member of the same company, especially if it’s via the same social media account. The right arm should know what the left is doing.

Have real conversations: Listen, I know you’re on social media because you’re hoping it will increase sales and leads. Your customers know that, too. But that doesn’t mean every conversation has to be about work or you telling me how great your company is. Customers want to hear about the you that exists outside of work hours. They want to get to know you and they want you to show you care by getting to know them. Relationships are built in the details. In the good mornings, in the sharing of your favorite TV shows and in sharing what you had for dinner. Don’t forget to be a person when you’re busy trying to be a business. People do business with other people, not with logos.

Listen to feedback: The cool thing about social media is that you have a constant audience of people willing to give you feedback, positive and negative. Use it. Companies historically have had to pay for that level of transparency. Social media gives it to you for free. Make note of the things people like about your brand, listen to what they don’t like, and ask them questions designed to help you better how you serve them. The more conversations you have with customers about your brand, the more you’ll learn about what they want and the more invested you’ll make them in your success.

Apologize when it warrants it: You’re not perfect and at some point you’re probably going to goof. When that happens, instead of making excuses or trying to save face, just admit it. You may be familiar with a company called Foiled Cupcakes. They’ve done an incredible job using Twitter and social media to build their brand and they’re one of those brands customers really love. However, earlier this week they screwed up and upset one of their customers. What did they do? They blogged about the experience, explaining what happened, apologizing for the mistake, and telling customers how they’ll prevent it from happening again. The type of goodwill they racked up in that one moment? Priceless.

The truth is, becoming a company people love on social media isn’t much different from acting like one they love off it. We need to stop pretending it is. Focus on making your customers over-the-moon happy. That’s how you become great. Online and as a brick and mortar.


Lisa Barone Lisa Barone is Vice President of Strategy at Overit, an Albany Web design and development firm where she serves on the senior staff overseeing the company’s marketing consulting, social media, and content divisions.

15 Reactions
  1. Lisa,

    Great tips. I wish companies in Sweden would read this post, e.g. the big rail operator, SJ. They stopped using Twitter ( @SJ_AB ) during the Xmas holiday and didn’t inform the passengers about the traffic situation.

  2. Lisa, will you marry me? You have not authored a post or written a word of wisdom that I have not fully enjoyed or heavily disagreed with.

    Again, you are on the money. I would recommend – though – that you take the actual complaint conversations offline and work with the customer individually to get it resolved.


    Marc LeVine
    Director of Social Media
    RiaEnjolie, Inc.
    Follow on Twitter @RiaEnjolie

  3. I really enjoy reading/hearing Scott Stratten talk about social media because he gets to the heart of the matter; social media isn’t any different from regular face-to-face customer interactions. Treat people well and remember that you’re building a relationship. If you follow that rule you’ll be available, you’ll be helpful and your effort and sincerity will win over your customers.

  4. “The truth is, becoming a company people love on social media isn

  5. Lisa

    “The truth is, becoming a company people love on social media isn

  6. Great post! Don’t forget to always be on the look-out for people talking about your business. Whether good or bad, businesses need to engage customers who take the time to write a review.

  7. Hey, Lisa:
    Thanks for acknowledging us in this post! Great tips. Something we have really embraced over the past year thanks to great examples leading the social media forefront is the idea of systemizing EVERYTHING we do in our business – including handling issues via social media. I love that you said, “the right arm should know what the left is doing.” So true, and something we continually strive to do as a company.

    As far as taking issues offline as Marc commented above, I completely agree. With our particular goof up last week, we did have a back-and-forth e-mail conversation with the client and her assistant. I learned the following from @interactiveAmy:
    1 – Take concerns offline immediately.
    2 – Privately address concerns with the intent of improving, not defending, your actions.
    3 – Commit to doing things better next time, and communicate how that will be done.

    Our blog post last week was not only our way of communicating that we will be better, but also my own personal way of reminding myself and our employees what our company stands for: outstanding service, timeliness, bringing people together, and shiny happy goodness. I also hope that this public reminder will serve as an accountability factor for us as employees to our customers – to ensure that we continually follow through on our commitments and do what we promise to do.

    At any rate, so far, so good (fingers crossed). We haven’t messed up in a week! 🙂 Ha!

    Have a happy new year, and thanks again for the mention!

  8. Thanks, Lisa

    You wrote that, “every conversation has to be about work or you telling me how great your company is. Customers want to hear about the you that exists outside of work hours.”

    I totally agree. That’s why I mix my Twitter and Facebook updates with things like;

    YouTube videos of live concert footage of bands that I love

    Updates about The Franchise Princess’s teen-related stuff that’s memorable

    Stuff about @FranchiseDog (We just had to put him down. I shared that, too.)

    Cool things that I find on StumbleUpon

    And other assorted craziness.

    Yes, I put out franchise/small business stuff, too. Often.

    A mix is good. A HUMAN mix of stuff is betta!

    As for a proposal. Fawget about it. My wife would be a little bit angry.

    The Franchise King

  9. Hey Lisa,

    Great tips, you’ve shared some of the golden rules which each & every company should follow in social media. We should do whatever it takes to make our customers happy, because of them only we exist. One wrong move will make the relation sour which might left a strong vibes in their mind.


  10. Really great tips that every start-up must adopt.


  11. Thanks Lisa
    Really enjoyed your post. Some solid tips. I personally think “Apologize when it warrants it” is the hardest concept for small business owners to comprehend. Let’s hope 2011 sees a shift away from this and a more open, honest dialogue happening with business and their supporters in 2011.

  12. Great straightforward post. It kind of takes the mystery out of social media. It just teaches you the benefits of being helpful and honest.

    Myrna Greenhut,
    Points of Persuasion Syndicate

  13. This is a must read article for all business owners. I definitely can be more patient and understanding with a company that listens to feedback whether they agree or not and especially if they can admit when they are at fault for something. We all just want honesty in this world and the same is true when it comes to businesses.