Companies using social media for customer service are steadily increasing. According to Mashable, 80% of companies will be using social customer service by the end of the year. Why? Because it is a vital tool for customer relationship management and businesses need to incorporate it into their business models if they are to keep their customers happy. Customers expect it.
But, Jayne Gorman from the Huffington Post believes 'the whole industry is still trying to formulate what is best practise.' It's not surprising that some companies are a little reluctant to join the social media crew as many comments are public and could potentially harm the brand's reputation if something offensive is said.
But this aside, let's put it into context. Gartner believes that 'refusing to communicate by social media will be as harmful to companies as ignoring phone calls or emails is today'. What's more, social media allows you to be in easy contact with clients/ customers throughout the whole purchasing process and there after. It also provides a brand with a flexible platform to reach out and react to comments from customers - 24/7 (if you have the resources!).
Here are some do's:
- Acknowledge all comments if possible. This will prove to your customers that they are at the forefront of your customer service strategy. It shows you are listening.
- Be efficient responding or at least set an expectation from the word go. Many customers will use social media to avoid the long telephone queues regularly associated with traditional customer service. Also, if you provide a service 24-hours a day, customers will, no doubt, expect to be able to receive assistance at every hour of the day too. Something to strongly consider if you are an airline for example as people may have urgent enquires and will use the immediacy of Twitter to get an answer.
- Inject some personality into your responses. It will give the customer / client something to remember you by. In turn, this will hopefully aid customer retention too.
- Listen to your customers and potential clients. By doing this, you can answer questions and resolve issues in real-time. Monitoring and analysing the conversation around service can provide invaluable social social customer service data around your customers' motivations and behaviour and help you plan to improve your products and services.
And, some don'ts
- Back in August it was found that 71% of brands ignored comments on Twitter. Why invest time in implementing a social media strategy if you are going to ignore what your customers are saying?!
- Avoid reacting rudely if someone says something negative about your brand. Take all comments on board and learn from them. Some negatives can always be turned into a positive.
- 'Don't over think the platform and infrastructure you use to connect to customers, or you might not ever actually implement it.' Yes, providing customer service on social media requires planning, but don't beat around the bush about it either.