Last week saw Kigali hosting two different events but both linked to customer relations.
One was the launch of first ever ranking on the use of social media among individual Rwandans, institutions and businesses.
Secondly, The Service Mag (a local business magazine) came up with another ceremony of recognising best service providers in various categories ranging from banks to insurances, clinics, restaurants, local governments, et cetera.
There is already a good number of publications out there demonstrating the link between the use of social media and customer care. This link is based on engagement between two parties, the provider and the receiver.
With various platforms of social media, businesses find an incomparable opportunity of building a relationship with potential and existing customers.
Many businesses and other institutions are now using social media for different aspects of engagement, and therefore are building a stronger and larger base.
Those aspects of engagement should include one or more of the following; social interaction, position and programmes, sharing information, increased brand awareness, lead generation, service and support, or reputation management. Of course, the platforms and how you use social media would be different for lead generation versus service and support.
It’s already a decade since the era of social media and businesses, small and big, local and global, have taken up platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, Google+ and LinkedIn to increase brand awareness, attract new leads and engage with customers.
Here is good news though; it’s never too late to launch the presence of your organization on social media platforms.
Another reason customer service is becoming highly important on social media is because people will not just call up a company and complain anymore! They are likely heading to their smartphones or computers to tell the world how terrible a product or service is.
If your organisation is not present to clarify the situation or offer support, the consequences may be grave.
But contrary to the old saying that “bad news travels fast”, people also use social media to share reviews about great service experiences.
Locally, it is worth mentioning that politicians in the central government are far ahead of business executives in terms of social media activities.
Then you wonder: between a government official’s holding of weekly tweeter sessions and an unavailable business company’s officer, who needs customers more? (Maybe another story for another day).
Business companies dealing in utility, finance and hospitality are very engaging with customers on social media platforms, mainly Twitter and Facebook.
In some occasions customers are praising their services, but they also happen to get slammed several times a day for complaints on lack of water, of power in this or that neighborhood, for mess in public transport, for failure of internet connection and overcharges and many other issues.
Few of these companies are quick to respond and offer quality assistance while others are…just sleeping.
Don’t allow your business company in the latter category.
Social media gives businesses opportunities to talk to customers and most importantly to listen to them.
Kumva or to listen is the latest campaign of the Rwanda Development Board to take customer service to a higher level in the country, and outside your premises, the only crucial place where your customers are talking is: Social Media.
From big companies to neighborhood grocery stores, social media is becoming more and more a necessity in order to remain customer-focused.
Like many other tools, social media doesn’t come with magic formula for success. It should be approached with an open mind and dedication for work.
Always remember that with social media you are building relationship and it is more effective if you don’t go in a relationship half-heartedly.
Martin Semukanya is a Journalist and Social Media Consultant