The Apple Way of Connecting With Customers

May 20, 2016

How long do you think Apple has been providing customer support through social media?

Five years?

Longer?

Try two months.

Unlike practically every other large tech company around, Apple has been reluctant to expand into the social media world.

Now that they’ve finally made the leap, the way they run their customer support Twitter account has plenty of key takeaways you can apply in your healthcare business – even with only a fraction of Apple’s brand recognition and marketing budget.

Why Apple Changed Their Mind

Apple built its reputation by breaking the rules and flaunting conventions of how they were “supposed” to handle marketing and business. Even though all the other tech companies were expanding aggressively into social media, Apple refused to be swayed by the latest hot trend.

That’s why their March 2016 announcement, when they finally revealed they were launching an official Apple Support Twitter account, came as such a shock.

This wasn’t a lightly made decision. After all this time, Apple recognized the value of giving their customers what they had grown to expect: a social media channel to discuss customer support issues.

How Apple Uses Twitter to Market and Build Lasting Relationships

In just two months, Apple Support’s Twitter profile has grown from zero to almost 300,000 followers!

They’ve encouraged this incredible growth by using simple and sustainable strategies – strategies you can take and run with in your healthcare business.

Here’s how they’re doing it:

Posting a Tip a Dayapple_1

A pillar of Apple’s Twitter strategy is to post one tip each day.

These tips make customers appreciate their Apple products even more because they help them discover features they might not have known about. They also get people in the habit of engaging with the Twitter account regularly.

Apple often presents these tips with images or short videos, which are easy for people to consume and share across their own social media networks.

These tips help anyone who owns Apple products—even if they aren’t proactively looking for help. Apple shows that they aren’t just concerned with making the sale. They’re interested in helping customers tap into their products’ full potential…and hopefully becoming Apple fans for life.

Constantly Answering Customer Questions

While the Apple Support account posts tips and tricks, most of their effort is spent helping customers sort out issues with their Apple products and services.

Simply answering customer questions makes up the vast majority (probably 99%) of their tweets.

Combining these two things (posting their own content and answering questions that come in) is a smart way to do outbound marketing without neglecting the most important thing: relationships with customers.

The support account also opens up a convenient communication channel for customers. Instead of calling or visiting an Apple store, they can get things handled just by firing off a tweet!

Valuing Every Kind of Feedback

The Apple Support account embraces all kinds of feedback: good, bad, and everything in between.

By acknowledging people who compliment them and working quickly to solve any gripes, they make everyone feel valued. This helps encourage valuable feedback and builds lasting relationships with customers.

Managing Expectations

With all the customers Apple has, their support account must get thousands of tweets a day. It would take a team working 24/7 just to keep up… and they’d still probably fall behind on the international customers.

Apple doesn’t want angry customers getting even angrier when they have to wait 12 hours for a response. That’s why their Twitter account is careful about managing expectations:

This simple language (5am to 8pm operating hours) is all it takes. Now anyone who messages the account understands exactly why their question might not be answered right away. You can do this too!

Communicating in a Positive, Upbeat Way

When Apple finally started a Twitter account, they channeled the same helpful voice you’d expect to find if you stopped by the Genius Bar or called their customer support.

In this way their reputation for outstanding customer support expanded seamlessly into a new channel.

Every customer response tweet acknowledges the problem, expresses a desire to help, and quickly points people in the right direction.

Apple doesn’t use generic responses. They vary, and you can always tell they’re written by a real human.

apple_5

How You Can Do It Too (Even on a Tight Budget)

Applying Apple’s Twitter strategy to the healthcare industry is totally doable.

You don’t need a ton of money to make it work. Just a little time and attention will take you a long way in building stronger relationships with customers.

Above all, keep your tweets focused on helping your customers. Too many businesses start a Twitter account and spend 100% of the time talking about themselves. You’ll get more traction by answering questions, responding to feedback, and doing everything you can to help.

You can mix in posts for content you create too. Using an automated social media posting service like Buffer will help you schedule these tweets beforehand. Combining these occasional tweets with plenty of customer support will help with outbound marketing and building relationships.

If you’ve written blog posts or an FAQ page to answer common customer questions, you can use your Twitter responses to link to the appropriate content, helping solve problems while saving you time.

Take note: the more active you are, the more customer feedback you’ll see. This feedback can give you plenty of new ideas on how to improve your products and reach even more customers.

Social media can seem intimidating…

But it doesn’t need to be.

Start small and work your way up. That’s exactly what Apple did. They still don’t have a general “@Apple” Twitter account. A single Twitter account with consistent posts is worth way more than ten different social media profiles with random posts.

Bottom line: You can get started with a very tight budget by setting aside a few minutes or an hour a day to answer questions, interact with your followers, and promote your business.

Your Turn

Amazing customer support makes for amazing marketing. It’s incredible how far you can get—just by setting aside some time every day to answer customers’ questions.

There’s hardly a better way to show customers you’re committed to helping them, while generating valuable feedback, and building relationships that last.

Doing it well doesn’t take Apple’s brand recognition or gigantic marketing budget, either.

All it takes is a simple strategy and a Twitter account!

 

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