According to Nielsen, internet users continue to spend more time with social media sites than any other type of site. The total time spent on social media on PC and mobile devices increased by 37 percent to 121 billion minutes in July 2012 compared to 88 billion minutes in July 2011. This means that restaurants can use social media as customer service. Let’s explore how.
Social Media as Customer Service Tool for Restaurants
Social media has proved to be an excellent online tool for restaurants and small businesses by helping your company gain exposure, cultivate relationships, and communicate with your targeted audience. For small businesses, the benefits of social media have extended beyond social sharing to reputation building, increasing business, bringing in career opportunities, and aggressively addressing customer service needs.
The Starbucks Experience
In 2012, Starbucks initiated one-on-one customer engagement across their social media accounts. This included responding to criticism and welcoming positive feedback. They also started an additional account, @MyStarBucksIdeas where customers can submit their ideas for making the entire Starbucks experience better. That account alone has more than 45,000 followers, while the Starbucks Facebook page has more than 35 million likes.
Eleven Madison Park does Research on all their Clients
Eleven Madison Park Googles the names of every guest who will come in each night. It’s a well-known tactic of the restaurant in an effort to be as familiar as possible with the diners. If, for example, the maître d’ discovers it’s a couple’s anniversary, he’ll then try to figure out which anniversary. If it’s a birthday, he’ll welcome a guest, as they walk in the door, with a “Happy Birthday.”
According to Eleven Madison Park maître d’Justin Roller, even small details are useful: “If I find out a guest is from Montana, and I know we have a server from there, we’ll put them together. In other words, before customers even step through the door, the restaurant’s staff has a pretty good idea of the things it can do to specifically blow their minds.”
Three Customer Service Tips Small Businesses
Ragy Thomas, CEO and co-founder of a social relationship management system, points out that larger brands have discovered being responsive to consumers on social media is one important way to provide great customer service. Thomas offered the following three tips for small businesses that want to utilize social networks to their full customer-centric potential:
* Build real customer relationships. Many businesses approach social media as another marketing channel for self-promotion and don’t always respond when customers comment on their posts or tweet at them. Use your Facebook and Twitter accounts as an opportunity to build real relationships with your customers by engaging in conversation.
* Focus on creating a customer advocate base. If a customer has a bad experience with a company, one of the first things he or she is likely to do is write about it on social media. Instead of figuring out how to manage and respond to those negative comments, businesses should focus on providing such excellent service that they create a strong, loyal customer base that will advocate on their behalf if someone has something bad to say.
* Remember that social media is a mirror. No matter how good you are at responding to social media interactions, your customer service ultimately rests on how well you run your business. If your business is going well and customers love you, that’s reflected on social media. If they dislike you, social networks become a tool to amplify their voice.
Here are three social media tips to enhance customer service for restaurants, courtesy of Lorri Mealey.
Offer Tours of Your Restaurant
A great way to show off your digs to new customers is through a short video tour. All you need is a cell phone camera to upload videos automatically to Facebook. Give a guided tour of your dining room, bar and outside seating areas. Make sure the camera work is steady and it’s well narrated. If you don’t know anything about videos, ask among your staff. Chances are, one of them will have some experience posting videos to Youtube or other social media sites.
Post Tutorial Videos
In a world inundated with celebrity chefs and cooking shows, there is no reason you can’t make your own cooking videos for your customers. Consider making some how-to videos featuring your chef or bartender (assuming neither is camera shy). Video your chef making a house specialty or your bartender showing how to mix the perfect martini. You might have to shoot a couple takes to get it right.
Offer Coupons and Other Discounts Through Social Media
Reward loyal customers with coupons or other discounts for “liking” your status or “retweeting” your tweets. Make sure any discounts are clearly labeled and have an expiration date- like “Like this photo and get a free appetizer tonight, only!” Otherwise you could find yourself giving food away for weeks and months to come.
Address Customer Complaints
If a customer takes the time to post a complaint on your Facebook wall or other social media site, you need to take the time to address it. Instead of seeing it as a problem, view it as an opportunity to turn a negative into a positive. You will be surprised too, to find that often other customers will counter any complaints with their own positive experiences at your restaurant. Read on for more about handling customer complaints.
How to Manage & Grow Your Social Media Accounts
Socialdraft is your all-in-one tool for Social Media management. Socialdraft allows you to:
- Schedule posts to multiple Social media accounts
- Keep tabs on your online reputation
- Have multiple people create and post content
- Pull Reports
- and much more