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The Next Generation In Providing an Exceptional Customer Experience

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As a pet retailer or store manager, creating an exceptional customer experience for every two, or four-legged customer that walks in your door is of prime importance.

Although social media doesn’t serve your customers in a traditional face-to-face, or paw-to-paw, manner that may be more familiar, it is an opportunity to provide extraordinary customer service, build a deeper relationship with your customers and reach new customers in a different way.

Position yourself as more than just a business, but a passionate, trustworthy and solution-oriented resource that makes life better for pets and the people that love them.

With limited time and resources, how do pet retailers create, much less manage, a solid and consistent social media presence? Here are a few tips for getting started and staying on track.

Social media never sleeps. With information sharing happening 24/7/365, assign yourself “social media time” day or night to write content, post content or reply to posts.

Try to respond to posts or messages within a few hours, 24 hours at the most. Customers are trying to reach someone to share, engage or pose a question or concern.

Social posts are simply a new method to provide customers with attention, knowledge and a positive experience they associate with your business. By providing a fast response to both positive and negative posts, customers feel supported that you are handling their needs in an efficient manner, and the relationship will be strengthened.

Sniff out 30 minutes a day. Many store owners jump into social media, only to allow the management of this marketing effort cascade down the daily priority list. With the many responsibilities that come with managing your store, start small by devoting 30 minutes a day.

If time constraints and responsibilities hinder this ability, consider delegating social media upkeep to an employee or an outside contractor. To start, prioritize the types of content you want to feature, such as events, adoptions, new products, holidays, special sales and promotions, etc., and gather the photo and video assets you have to work into your content.

One great place to look for content is from distributors and manufactures. Many pet food manufactures have a plethora of articles about everything from nutrition, proper pet care and more, available for free on their website.

Visual-based content is predicted to dominate in 2014, so use it. In 2013, photos posted on Facebook receive 53 percent more likes than posts without. Tweets with images receive 18 percent more clicks that those without, 89 percent more favorites, and 150 percent more retweets.*

Stay focused, start small and invite engagement. No business dominates every social media platform, so if you move too fast, you may find yourself overwhelmed right out of the “crate.”  To start, choose 2 channels and commit to building consistent content with regular frequency.

With Facebook and Twitter, consider using a time-saving, low-cost software that automatically links content between the two platforms. In writing content, avoid overly hyping your products and services, as it is a potential turnoff, and use the 80/20 rule: Keep content 80 percent about your customers and information important to them, and 20 percent about your business, products and services.

Invite customers to post pictures or videos of their pet, create a poll and ask questions that encourage active participation.

Remember the basics, many retailers neglect to include essential information in their page profiles, such as website, phone number, address and map link, services provided, hours of operation and email.
*Source: Kim Garst, social media strategist and contributor for Huffington Post

- Erin Terjesen

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