The year is 2015. What do you do if your flight is cancelled last minute and you’re stuck at the airport? What about if you go finally to the restaurant your friends have been raving about and you find a stray hair in your food? And what if your brand new vacuum cleaner breaks after just one use?
If you are among the millions of technologically savvy people who use social media and the web in general, my guess is that you immediately jump to Twitter, Facebook, or even the brand’s website itself to complain about the lousy service and experience you just had. Long gone are the days when your consumers would write you a letter or call you up. People are spending more time on social media than ever before so naturally it has become the customers go-to, an open platform to complain and/or ask questions, where they also expect instant solutions.
However, it hasn’t always been quite that simple to resolve issues through customer service. Let’s discuss some older customer service techniques and their disadvantages before we get into the good stuff.
Old School Methods of Customer Service
You have to hunt for the phone number: Sometimes, just finding the correct number can be difficult. Above that, you might have to be transferred several time to even speak to the correct person. Wait times are long and after all that elevator music you might just end up getting disconnected. Did we mention the awful elevator music?
You’re asked to fill out a contact form: It’s an impersonal experience, and customers never know where the contact form is going, when it will be replied to, or by whom.
You send an email: It can sometimes take days to receive a response if your email is even lucky enough to be opened. Communication can easily get lost over email and it is a much less personal method of reaching a representative.
If only there was a different, faster, more efficient way to respond to customer inquiries…
New Age Methods of Customer Service
May I introduce to you, the wonderful, incredible, brilliant idea of using social media as your customer service portal! Customer service, aka “social care” will definitely compensate for many of the above disadvantages traditional customer service brings. Get ready for a whole lot of insight into great customer service on social because we’re about to rock your world.
Customer service through social media is a developing medium that is already proving to be a much more efficient way to have a conversation with your audience. While still a developing practice, customer service is one of the most overlooked and ignored sides of social media, and that needs to change immediately.
Social media is the future of customer service. Need to be convinced? Let’s talk facts:
- Only 36% of consumers that make customer service inquiries via social media report having their issue solved quickly and effectively.
- When companies engage and respond to customer service requests over social media, those customers end up spending 20% to 40% more with the company.
- 71% of those who experience positive social care (i.e., a quick and effective brand response) are likely to recommend that brand to others, compared to just 19% of customers that do not receive any response.
- 43% of consumers say that a direct response to their questions is most important on a social media site. 31% expect the social media site to provide direct access to customer service representatives or product experts.
- 86% of social media customers would like or love to hear from a company regarding a complaint..
Convincing enough? While there are still a variety of ways that customers are being serviced, social has become more a prominent method. However, it puts brands in a position where they must have a plan and necessary resource(s) in place to ensure customers are happy, in order to maintain positive brand experiences and sentiment. After all, what your customers have to say about you on social media can affect major aspects of your brand such as sales, brand loyalty and could sway the opinions of potential new customers depending on what they find.
“I genuinely believe that any business can create a competitive advantage through giving outstanding customer care.” – Gary Vaynerchuk
What Your Customers Want: 3 Keys to Rocking Social Customer Service
What is the main thing customers want? A quick response to their problems of course! According to an Edison study, 42% of consumers expect a response on social media within one hour, and 32% think it should be within 30 minutes. I mean, can you blame them? Responding on the computer is an easy thing to do, and something you SHOULD do if you want to keep your customers around. Even if you miss a comment and feel bad about sending a late response, not responding at all is the worst thing you could do. So, send that late tweet or comment, and apologize for the time it took to respond!
The vast majority of Twitter and Facebook users – 83% and 71% respectively – want a response within the same day of posting. And yet, lots of brands aren’t picking up on the urgency customers have. 71% of consumers who experience a quick and effective brand response on social media are likely to recommend that brand to others, compared to just 19% of customers who do not receive a response. ~ NM Incite
On social media, you’re not just showing a single customer a great experience, but also their friends and everyone else watching. Customer service on social media differs from the traditional methods we talked about earlier in that even though you are responding to one person’s questions, thousands of others are ‘listening’ and can view your response.
When companies engage and respond to customer service requests over social media, those customers end up spending 20% to 40% more with the company if they experienced a pleasant exchange with the company.~ Bain & Company.
Quality responses could mean a number of things, such as personalizing the message, expressing sympathy and the tone of writing you use towards the person. An automated response giving the customer a number to call is not considered a quality response or pleasant experience for the issuer of the complaint. Also, it’s not just about responding to the negative comments. Compliments and accolades should be given a proper response as well. Customers who hear back from their favorite brands will remember that for a lifetime and will be more likely to recommend your brand to a friend and be a brand advocate. Customers who encounter positive social customer care experiences are nearly 3 times more likely to recommend a brand. (Harvard Business Review)
All companies should adhere to the mantra, “The customer is king,” because without happy customers, failure is inevitable. Customers can leave at any moment, so the smartest companies are those that are constantly coming up with new and innovative ways to make their customers feel important and appreciated. When assessing the quality of your transaction with the customer you must ask yourself a couple of key questions.
- Did I understand their question, comment or reason for contact?
- Did I do my best to help the customer while maintaining a good attitude that reflects well on my brand?
- Was there a resolution or a solution to their problem that they are content with?
How the customers request was resolved could mean the difference between a repeat customer who will recommend you brand to others and an unhappy customer who will take their business elsewhere. When people see multiple complaints on a brands page that have either gone unanswered, or answered but with automated responses, it leaves a a bad impression of your brand. Also, use your best judgement to determine when to take an issue offline. In most cases, as long as you gave your best attempt to provide quality customer service, other people will see that and have a better feeling about your brand.
Companies who rock customer service on social media
1. Red Box
2. Jet Blue
3. Virgin Atlantic
4. W Hotels
In the past, most brands haven’t done a very good job of responding to complaints or taking helpful advice on social media (with the exception of the rock stars who are ahead of the game). Brands are just now starting to shift their strategies to make customer service a main priority on social media. Customer care inquiries on social media are only going to increase in the years to come, so let’s embrace a social care strategy!
Need some help rocking your social “care” services, let us know how we can help!
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