Small businesses benefit from content marketing and a solid online presence. Not all small businesses feel they have the staff or the resources to create good content consistently, and instead they choose to focus on other things. Think you don’t have time to engage in content marketing? Use your customer service needs to inform your content marketing, then address certain customer service issues from a content marketing standpoint. That way, you create content that your customers want to read, and you boost your online presence.
Create Content Based on Customer Queries
Frequently Asked Question pages are popular for a reason: No matter how good your instructions and services are, human beings end up with questions. Relying only on a FAQ page is a huge content marketing miss for your brand, because FAQs make great potential topics for high-quality blog content that you can promote on social media. Customers prefer to find the answers to their questions themselves; They’d rather not go through the hassle of calling, e-mailing, or chatting with someone from your business.
Dig into your FAQs, customer queries, and customer complaints. Create content that explains how to do some of the things that customers are confused about. Create content that explains different products or prices. For example, in HVAC, understanding the MERV rating on an air filter is important information that most customers lack. A great HVAC article would explain everything a customer needs to know about MERV so that he or she can buy the right air filter with confidence.
Articles that answer FAQs make great Tweets and Facebook posts, because they answer questions that many customers have. The headline will attract those customers who have been wondering about things but who haven’t had time to contact you directly. The headlines also attract new customers who didn’t realize that they needed the information — but who are now glad to have it.
Create How-To Informational Content
In the same vein as addressing FAQs with high-quality content, create how-to guides that are relevant to your business. How-tos are fantastic, because they draw in new customers — and because you can use a variety of formats to craft them. One topic might be easiest to describe in writing. Another might require an infographic, whereas a third might need visual aids and thus call for a video.
You aren’t limited to addressing customer FAQs in how-to content, though it’s certainly a good place to start. Talk about common topics in your industry that your target audience will find valuable. For a mechanic, say, a great how-to video might involve getting snow chains on tires safely and easily. A law office might write a how-to article about contesting a ticket in traffic court. These topics bring interested people to your website and introduce new potential customers to your brand.
Use Social Media Platforms for Customer Service
Successful examples of customer service merging with content marketing include the use of Twitter and Facebook to address customer complaints. Make your web presence open to customer interaction, and address online customer issues as quickly as you can. The way you interact with customers online is like mini content marketing: each comment you type or tweet you reply to is a tiny representation of your brand and its content. People see those and form opinions about your brand.
Sometimes these @ replies and Facebook comments are a customer’s introduction to your business. You’re a small business, so you don’t have the capacity to reply as quickly or to work out each problem within the hour as big brands do. Even if all you do is leave a short note explaining that you’ll be with them to work out the issue soon, that’s a good start.
Craft a Customer Service Segment of Your Style Guide
Dealing with customers, whether publicly online or privately over the phone, needs to be as cohesive to your business identity as the rest of your branding. Give your employees the information they need to deal with customers in a way that represents your brand by creating a customer service section in your style guide. Some ideas might include a format for addressing customer complaints on Twitter and Facebook or perhaps tone guides for leaving small, warm thank-you notes on happy customer comments.
Remember that it’s a style guide, not a script — you don’t want every customer interaction to be exactly the same. Customers who contact your company directly need to feel like individuals, and they need to know that you’re taking their specific problem seriously. If you leave the same comment format on each Facebook complaint you receive, unhappy customers will be the first to point out the cookie-cutter responses.
Address Unhappy Customers (Offline If You Can)
People will scroll through dozens of positive reviews to read what the negative reviews have to say. The customers who don’t have time to write a good review will spend half an hour on their iPhones typing something negative into Yelp when they feel taken advantage of or severely dissatisfied.
How you respond to these unhappy customers says a lot about your business, and you know potential customers will be reading the interaction.
Start with an apology, and offer several ways to make the situation right. In your reply to a negative review or a complaint on social media, give the customer several options for taking the conversation to a personal (and private) level. You can offer a phone number for them to call, an e-mail they can contact, or even ask for a direct message via the platform (like on Facebook or Twitter).
An unhappy customer leaving lots of bad comments where everyone can see doesn’t reflect well on your brand, because it looks like you didn’t do enough to help them (even when you did).
When you use customer service to inform your content marketing topics, you end up with solid topic ideas for content that your customers want to read. Think of online interactions with customers as opportunities to build your brand and engage in more content marketing. That way you don’t need a department dedicated to marketing to create high-quality content.