Social media customer service: Going the extra mile
In 2005, how many of you were on social media? Compare that to now, where nearly 70% of adults in the United States are using a social media platform. Since the blossoming of Facebook in 2004, social media use has skyrocketed. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media are slowly gaining a larger monopoly on our time. Researchers and psychologists are now wondering, how have these social media affected our relationships? Both in a personal and a commercial sense, and how will it impact the way we conduct business and support customers?
The role of social media on relationships
There’s a phenomenon known as social displacement, which is when time spent on social media sites eats away at face-to-face interactions. Fears of social displacement have existed for centuries, beginning with the emergence of telephones. No matter what the latest technology is, there’s always going to be a fear that technology is going to impact the relationships with our loved ones. But is the idea of social media reducing face-to-face interactions necessarily a bad thing?
Since the lockdown began in March 2020, everyone was taken aback. People who once met everyday couldn’t do that anymore; Brick-and-mortar stores had to look for alternate ways to operate. Ultimately, what came to save the day? Social media.
Zoom allowed overseas families to connect when they couldn’t travel; E-commerce platforms encouraged many young entrepreneurs to follow their dreams and to start a business; And social media provided a path for businesses to support their customers.
In particular, the relationship dynamic that stood out the most to us was between the customer and the brand through proactive social media customer service. Let’s explore.
What is social media customer service?
Social media customer service is offering support through channels such as Facebook and Twitter. For customers, it minimizes the effort it takes to reach out to brands when facing a problem. As opposed to traditional methods like going to the company website, filing a complaint, and waiting for a service representative to get back to them.
For brands, it’s almost like moving from a scarcely populated ranch, to a densely populated metropolis. When anyone faces a problem, their first instinct is to make a Facebook status about it, for example. By being active on Facebook, you’re allowed to control the narrative and fix the problem right there. It’s an essential element of customer success.
As social media becomes more sophisticated, brands are beginning to realize that it’s only not a channel for maintaining personal relations, but it can also progress into building professional relations as well. With social media, you can build a community for your brand.
And with customer expectations rising every year, the line between personal and professional relations are becoming more blurred. Now, customers expect omnichannel support over social media.
Importance of social media customer service
Stronger brand awareness
When people think of brand awareness, they usually think of billboard advertisements and powerful word-of-mouth marketing, but it doesn’t have to be so grandiose. Sometimes, all it takes is an activation of a business account on social media. On average, a person is active on about 8 social media. If your brand is present on these platforms, you have a greater monopoly on someone’s newsfeed.
By being omnipresent on someone’s newsfeed, you build awareness amongst prospects online. It’s comparable to building a bridge that connects them directly to your brand. This connection can go a long way towards building more meaningful relationships.
Connects you to your customers
Let’s face it, whether you’re 13 or 30, you’re going to be glued to your phone. That’s just the nature of technology. At a subconscious level, people are absorbing information at alarming rates through their devices. If you consistently post content that provides value on a channel your customers are on, you’re allowing your customers to absorb more information about your brand. And with 24/7 social media support and online marketplaces, you’re providing a path for them to openly explore your brand as well.
Engages your customers
When building a brand or a community for your customers, engagement is extremely crucial. In an analogue sphere, customers can only engage with you when they’re in store. However, in a digital space, there are many opportunities for customers to engage with you. You can host giveaways, share unique content, provide instant support, and more. The opportunities are endless.
You can also reward a customer for liking your products and services to build a more powerful connection. If a customer mentions you in a tweet, or makes a post about you on Facebook, a basic response is a surefire way to make anyone’s day. But if you encounter a negative review, you can control the narrative. Sure, you can’t control what your customers are feeling, but you can control how you respond. Who knows? You could even convert the negative experience into something more positive with one reply.
On the subject of engagement, you can also personalize the interaction with each customer. As each interaction becomes more personalized, the engagement increases. Social media allows you to do so, without being intrusive. It’s easy to slide into your customer’s activities on social media since it is ultimately a public cloud. You can deliver a more personalized interaction and shoot ads that cater to their interests.
Quicker response times
Go back to the time when Google Suites servers were unresponsive for a couple of hours, what did users do? They went straight to Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook making tweets and liking comments about this catastrophe. Work was on pause, leisure binge-watching on YouTube was on a standstill, and everyone was left confused.
Customers will use social media to vent their frustrations out. They use it as an echochamber and don’t usually expect a response, but imagine if the company they were complaining about responded to them immediately? Expressing their sincerest apologies? The customer would be pleasantly surprised.
Brands can use social media to respond to distressed customers in real-time to find a quick resolution for their situation. In fact, it’s quicker than sifting through an online complaint box and routing the complaints to the appropriate departments. This speed and proactivity is exactly what customers expect from brands. In fact, 72% of customers expect a response within 2 hours of posting a negative tweet, which leads us to our next point.
Provides accurate insights on customer expectations
Sure, you can send out a survey to a customer, but how honest are they being with us? And how likely are they to take the time out to fill out a review? Unless you offer an incentive to fill a review out, it’s unlikely to happen. However, there is a way to gather insights on customer expectations without surveys. Try social media.
As we’ve mentioned, when customers post a review about a brand, they typically don’t expect them to respond. This allows them to be more candid and honest with their reviews- customers are voluntarily providing feedback. On social media, you can gauge what you’re doing right, and what needs to be adjusted. Even a like or a comment on your recent posts should give you enough information on what gaps need to be filled to increase your customers’ satisfaction and to exceed their expectations.
So now that you know why it’s important to be present on social media, here’s how to develop a social media customer service strategy.
How to build a social media customer service strategy
1. Prioritize social channels
The first step towards building a comprehensive social media customer service strategy is to acknowledge that it is necessary. Understand that customers are moving away from the call center and email sphere, and entering the social circle. Make social media a priority amongst your teams and treat it with the same respect as other customer service channels.
2. Use a system that helps you answers questions quickly
The next step is to have the right tools in place. Of course, you can’t expect a team to monitor your social media accounts 24/7. So, what’s the next best solution?
An always-on intelligent chatbot.
A chatbot can engage with your customers on the channel they prefer with no downtime without any human intervention. An intelligent chatbot will also personalize every interaction with your customer. It can address the customer by their name and broadcast offers that are tailored to their interests. But when an agent does need to step in, the chatbot will seamlessly transfer the conversation without any hassles or delays.
Responsiveness is key when it comes to customer service and satisfaction, but it’s particularly important when dealing with customers who are active on Facebook Messenger. Messenger actually rewards responsive businesses with color-coded badges. The highest award is a green badge that states “very responsive to messages.”
To get this badge, you need a response rate of 90% and an average response time of exactly 15 minutes per interaction over the course of a week. Obtaining this badge communicates to both customers and prospects that you have a top-of-the-line customer-care center.
3. Communicate hours and response times
While chatbots can take over 24/7, there are times when customers want to chat with a live agent immediately. Imagine their disappointment if they go through the effort of finding your page, initiating a conversation on Facebook with the intention of speaking with an agent, and they get hit with a reply that says “come back tomorrow between these hours.”
A more effective way of communicating your agent’s operating hours is by stating them in your description boxes.
4. Get the right talent
Average customer service is good, but have you ever heard of anyone raving about how average your service is? Probably not, so it’s time to go beyond. Create guided processes on how to deal with customer inquiries for your team to follow to ensure everyone is on the same page when dealing with inquiries. It minimizes errors and raises the quality and consistency from average to fantastic.
Hire the right people to handle these inquiries and support them with the right customer engagement platform. In case a customer is facing an issue that one member of the team isn’t prepared to deal with, the routing engine can transfer the conversation to the appropriate agent without any hassle.
Remember that hiring the right person involves a lot of trust. If you believe an employee can represent your company and provide a customer-centric service, you have to trust them to speak on behalf of your brand and give them the freedom to build meaningful relationships with your customers.
5. Create a plan for crisis situations
When things went wrong in the past, the most your customer will do is complain about your brand to their close friends and families. Nowadays, with how quickly information spreads with technology, it's very easy for a customer to screenshot the error and to broadcast it on social media. The worst thing you can do is ignore the complaint, because external replies will start pouring in and then it transforms from a customer-brand problem, to a community-brand problem.
You have to have a crisis plan to face it head-on.
Remember, even when you feel like the customer is wrong, they’re still right. You have to acknowledge that what they’re feeling is valid, and apologize immediately for causing any discomfort. Then ensure that you’re working towards resolving the problem and that you will follow up with the customer with a solution, or with updates on the issues.
6. Monitor metrics
Pay attention to how your customers are responding to the content you’re posting on your channels. You might notice that on some channels, one type of content is more effective than on the other channels. Plan your feed accordingly. If you see blog posts trending well on Facebook, focus on distributing there as a priority. And if infographics are more successful on Twitter, you know what to do.
Focus on larger, or public interactions with a social listening tool, and use a chatbot to focus on microinteractions.
7. Don’t operate in silos
The final step is to remember to not operate in silos. We at Engati like to reiterate that customer experience and support is a culture that flows within the entire organization. The feedback you receive from social media shouldn’t stay within customer service teams. It should be communicated with everyone, from product to marketing, all the way to the C-suite. To create exceptional standards, everyone needs to be in the loop. That way, your company can get to know your customer even better to build an even more meaningful relationship with your customers, which should be the ultimate goal.
Engati enables brands to utilize the power of social media customer support. Our intelligent customer support chatbots can respond to and personalize any and all interactions with customers and can bridge the gap between customers and brands.
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