With the rise in popularity of social media as a medium for communication, customer service has transformed from a one-on-one private interaction via phone call to a public open forum published on the web. Consumers can now reach their favorite brands simply by tweeting or posting on Facebook, and these public exchanges can shape a business's overall image.

Simply put, customer service is a vital component to any sales strategy. Improve your customer service, experience a higher customer retention rate, and increase referrals by incorporating these six simple strategies into your customer service experience.

Respond Quickly

Social media is fast and easy to use, and consumers have been increasingly turning to Twitter and Facebook to voice their experiences online. The Four Seasons Hotel in Palo Alto was able to turn a man's simple tweet into a fantastic personal experience. As a result, the Four Seasons was able to transform an ordinary patron into a brand advocate, who not only shares his positive experience online, but will continue to advocate for the brand in his personal life as well.

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                                          Image source: Flickr

Take Advantage of Negative Feedback

According to BlueWolf, 58 percent of people who have tweeted a bad experience never hear back from the company in question. A negative tweet or post hurts the brand image if it isn't addressed, but the negative experience can become a great opportunity to turn the customer's experience around. Addressing a complaint or bad experience shows customers that their voices are being heard, and that each individual is a valued customer. Increasing engagement and value can increase customer loyalty, resulting in continued engagement and sales.

Arm Yourself With Technology So You Can Connect at an Instant

Customer service is a 24/7 commitment, so it's important to stay updated on every social platform. Connect with social media users on the go.  At work it’s easy to monitor situations from your desk computer. Utilizing these options will make work away from work seem much more simplistic because in today’s business world having access to all types of devices is essential. Having a convenient and simple way to connect with users can help build stronger customer-client relationships, thereby cementing customer loyalty and increasing referrals. 

Pay Attention to Brand Mentions

Even when the customer doesn't mention you directly, they're still talking about you. Make sure you're aware of the conversation by using tools such as HootSuite or TweetDeck to increase your online engagement. Being responsive makes users feel like they're being listened to and increases their engagement with the brand. Netflix not only responds actively to help users fix their problems, but also engages in more general mentions, keeping the brand on the customer's mind.

Provide Appropriate Knowledge

Customer service shouldn't only be reactive, so offer customers appropriate knowledge that relates to what they're interested in. For example, Whole Foods has Twitter accounts specifically for specialty products such as wine or cheese, and its Facebook provides followers with interesting recipes on healthy cooking. In addition, many local Whole Foods stores have their own Twitter account, ready to dish information on local events and customer-service-related issues. Knowledge about the local community can provide value to customers and give them a place to go if they have any problems.

Go The Extra Mile

Air travel is a hassle. American Airlines is particularly conscious about their social media strategy, even holding a connecting flight in one particular instance. Going that extra mile can change a stressful or ordinary experience into a positive one, highlighting the brand's ability to not only empathize with its customers, but to also enact real change that positively affects them as well. Personalized customer service shows that your company cares and is ready to help however it can.

In today's increasingly social world, the quality of customer service can effectively enhance a brand's image. Cultivating strong customer-client relations can result in greater exposure through organic means, such as word of mouth, and lead to an increase in sales.

Using mobile tools, such as HootSuite across all your devices will improve customer service through social media engagement. This is a key strategy as well. Couple these tools with an intentional and focused social media strategy and you'll have the winning recipe for customer engagement and an increase in sales.

About the Author: Teddy Hunt is a freelance content writer with a focus on technology. When not behind a computer Teddy spends the majority of his free time outdoors and resides in Tampa, Florida.