True or false? Most consumers these days expect their preferred brands and service providers to have an active presence on social media. Providing not only product showcases and brand snippets, but also superior customer service, is crucial to your overall social media engagement strategy.
According to a survey by J.D. Power (Source: groovehq.com), almost 70 per cent of consumers look to a brand’s social media profiles for customer support.
They expect that in doing so, they will receive high quality service and a prompt response.
Why is great customer service so important?
Customer service is the single most important aspect of a business’s success – it is even more important than the actual product or service provided, as even the most outstanding product will not mitigate a poor customer service experience.
A business can create an advantage for itself competitively by offering and delivering outstanding customer service, support and care.
Treating customers as real people and exceeding their expectations is the key to receiving return business, great reviews, and building and maintaining a reputation for excellence.
Why use social media for customer service?
Research shows that 80 per cent of companies believe they deliver superior customer service via social media, yet only 8 per cent of their customers agree.
Very few brands are even meeting customer expectations with regards to customer support and care. Evidently, the majority of brands need to work on their customer service and social media customer engagement practices!
Those businesses and brands that do get it right are using social media cleverly to build and maintain positive relationships with consumers.
Why have a social media presence at all? While at this point in time fewer than 20 per cent of consumers wish to use social media to interact with brands, 50 per cent of consumers are still more likely to shop with a brand if they have the option to interact with it via social channels.
This is because consumers feel a stronger, more personal connection if a brand has a presence on their favourite social channels. This represents an enormous opportunity for a brand to succeed over their competitors.
Consider these statistics:
- Just 36 per cent of consumers report having their issues resolved effectively and promptly when they use social media for customer support.*
- 71 per cent of consumers will recommend a brand to others if they receive a fast and effective response to a request for support via social media.*
- Consumers spend significantly more with brands that engage and offer customer service via social media.*
- More than 40 per cent of consumers visit a social page expecting a direct response to queries.*
- Almost 90 per cent of consumers that complain on Twitter would appreciate a response from the company they complained about.*
- 42 per cent of consumers who contact a brand via social media expect a response within one hour.~
(~Source: Edison Research)
What do consumers expect from social media support?
- A prompt response
- Honesty and transparency
- Tangible assistance
Great examples of social media for customer service
- A Tampa, Florida resident was waiting for a flight at his local airport. He jokingly asked via Twitter if Morton’s Steakhouse would deliver him a steak when he landed in Newark, New Jersey. Morton’s stepped up to the challenge, and he was greeted at the airport in Newark three hours later by a Morton’s server bearing a full meal and at no charge. This was an unexpected gesture for a loyal customer – and the social exposure of both the original tweet and the result went viral.
- A business visitor to Vancouver tweeted that while his hotel room at The Delta was very nice, the view from his window was awful. Within one hour, The Delta responded via Twitter, offering another room with a better view. He also received a bowl of sweets and a handwritten message from the hotel management. This demonstrated that the hotel was listening – and that it cared about client opinions.
- A Londoner tweeted that he had become locked in the Waterstones Trafalgar Square Bookstore, seeking help. The tweet went viral very quickly, as due to the fact that someone was monitoring the Waterstones account, he was freed soon after. Waterstones tweeted and thanked followers for their tweets and concern. This demonstrates the importance of listening constantly to your social media – it’s just good customer service.
- Nike is proud to be one of Twitter’s best customer service accounts. Their support account is dedicated, operates every day, and is available in seven languages. They offer empathy, encouragement, and support on a level that all brands could benefit from emulating.
Tips for using social media as a customer service tool
- Know who your customers are. Be relevant and relatable to your target customer. Create just 20 per cent of your content to promote your business – the rest should be aimed at engaging your followers.
- Be active – but never spam. Too much content is not a good thing.
- Respond quickly to all comments, messages, and queries in a positive fashion – whether the consumer’s comment is positive or negative in nature. Respond professionally, calmly, in a friendly way, and offer solutions where necessary. Never respond with anger or pettiness.
- Personalise responses – this is not the place for an automated or scripted response. Let the consumer know who they are dealing with by name and that you are there for follow-up.
- Move the conversation into a more private forum. This is the beauty of the private message feature. Initially respond to the public comment, and politely suggest continuing the conversation privately to resolve the issue.
- Don’t delete negative comments – this inhibits transparency and will not build trust.
- Create an internal support team to manage customer service requests on social media.
- If using Twitter, create a dedicated account for handling customer service. Make sure to direct message users after acknowledging that you are available to help – this maintains privacy for both you and the consumer and also prevents timeline or thread clutter.
- Maintain records and monitor all interactions – resolved issues, unresolved issues, pending issues. Follow up and review results.
- Ask for your customers’ opinion. How are they using your products? What do they love? What would they change? How can you or your products improve?
Consumers are using social media ever more to solicit and receive customer support, care and service.
Questions are asked, satisfaction is reported, and complaints are aired publicly on social channels. Brands that create a seamless customer service experience via social media are positioned very well in today’s competitive marketplace.
At the end of the day, a company or brand that delivers premium support experiences to consumers via social media are highly rewarded – through repeat business and great word of mouth.
Conversely, a poor customer service experience on social media will potentially cause a consumer to abandon a purchase, leave a poor review, and damage a brand’s reputation.
A single negative customer experience shared publicly on social media can have more impact than five positive reviews.
In light of this, attention to customer service should be an intrinsic part of any social media engagement strategy.
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