Social media is a resourceful tool for any organization. Selecting the right platforms to communicate to  customers effectively, enhancing  customer service delivery via social media and effectively managing  social media crises gives organizations a lifetime experience in the internet world to transform their customer’s experiences.  These were the three main areas addressed by Kenya’s Social media experts during the ICS Breakfast Forum held on 26th April 2016 at Laico Regency Hotel.

Pauline Mwangi, CEO Allen Cole Consultants, started off the session by providing tips and guidelines to guests on how to select the right platform for their brands to give their customers an excellent experience. She went on to provide the different aspects and considerations to be put in place to enable successful achievement when selecting the right platform. First, she said, it is important to know who your customers are; with who and where do they hangout? This will enable selection of the appropriate platforms to use so as to reach them effectively. Knowing your customer’s age group is another important contributing factor towards selecting the right platform. Different age groups use different platforms: like Google plus and LinkedIn are mainly used by adult professionals; Facebook  gives unlimited reach; twitter  also provides  unlimited reach and enables follow up of the trending topics; and  Instagram enables reach out to the young generation.

Second is to identify your goal for being on social media. What’s your purpose? Is your platform for selling products or for offering customer support? It is important to have the right Customer Service Strategy in place to enable identification of your goal on social media and how to communicate to effectively.

Finally, once you select the right platform to communicate with your customers the next step is to engage in topics of interest to make your brand known and to gain followership.

Gad Opondo, CEO Reach Creatives, voiced that Social media should not be constrained as a marketing, branding, PR or sales tool, or an ICT baby. Social media is also a powerful customer service tool that will enable you enhance your customer service delivery.

Using Social media as a customer service tool helps organizations know what their customers are saying online  within as short as ten minutes and handle their complaints effectively. “Organizations should respond to questions using the same platform asked. If the questions are personal in nature it is important to refer the customer to their inboxes or ask for a telephone number in order to reach them, “added Gad.

Gad also urged the guests to develop a social media policy where specific people handle their social media platforms. He added that an organization should create a face on their social media platforms by once in a while allowing their customers to have a live chat with the CEO or the Customer Service Manager to address questions about their company’s products and services.

“If a customer is unhappy in physical world, they will tell 6 more customers but if a customer is unhappy in the internet world, they will tell 6000 friends.” Mr. Opondo concluded.

Have you ever been struck by a social media crisis and been stuck wondering how to effectively manage it? Mark Kaigwa, CEO Nendo, was present to address this need. Mark started by indicating that “The suit you are wearing does not make you; it is what people see that will make you.”  That is, as you interact with your customers they are looking deeply at your reputation and not what you are offering. The internet has become a place where people don’t shy away from speaking their minds and your organization’s reputation is in the hands of the internet users.

Mark elucidated on some social media crisis identifiers to enable preparation for a crisis and to handle it effectively:

Information asymmetry. One should look at the traditional way information has been disseminated from your organization. How does it flow? This will help in discovery of the problem before it actually comes.

Change from the norm is another one. If your customers are used to getting certain products and services but you make a change, be ready for a crisis to erupt. Have a plan ready to handle it effectively before it goes viral.

In conclusion in order to handle a crisis effectively on social media, a company should develop a crisis plan and share it with the staff. “The problem is not the critic, the problem is when you ignore your customers online,” said Mark. Social media being the fastest way for customers to get a response, developing a crisis plan will put in place a great response system for the company. This will enable you to attend to your clients in good time, avoid going viral and avoid damaging your brand.

The forum ended on a positive note with guests asking burning questions with effective responses by the panelists. Due to popular demand, it was agreed that ICS would arrange for a longer more comprehensive training session for participants.