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Who's ignoring their customers?
 

Who's ignoring their customers?

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Conversocial's first white paper investigates how top retailers are handling customer questions and complaints through their Facebook pages. ...

Conversocial's first white paper investigates how top retailers are handling customer questions and complaints through their Facebook pages.

The white paper, 'Who’s ignoring their customers: lessons from the best and worst retailers in Facebook’, looks at the efforts of the biggest UK retailers in Facebook to investigate how well they are managing questions and complaints coming through their Facebook pages.

The report discovers some key obstacles to effective social customer service and ways that some of the retailers have overcome them; and how some retailers have made the situation worse by attempting to ignore it.

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    Who's ignoring their customers? Who's ignoring their customers? Document Transcript

    • Lessons on customer service from the best and worstretailers in Facebook
    • Introduction Study Findings Conclusion Introduction To measure the current state of retailers’ readiness to truly engage with their customers via their Facebook pages, Conversocial carried out a research project examining content and responsiveness for the top 10 UK retailers in Facebook, as defined by the Econsultancy Group. The results show a startling spread of readiness, with the best performing company responding to questions in less than an hour. The worst, on the other hand, didn’t respond at all and seemed to have little interest in controlling their communities. Why concentrate on companies’ responsiveness? Capturing an audience and generating high volumes of comments has often been the focus of success; Econsultancy’s retailers were ranked according to fan size. Boosting fans and spreading marketing messages often takes priority while customer feedback is neglected. How critical are these customers to your business? Nielsen, in their Annual Consumer Survey, found that 90% of internet users valued the Why is customer opinions of their friends, and 70% trust the opinion of service in Facebook strangers posted online. In Facebook, companies need different to traditional to be on constant damage control duty. If you do not channels? challenge or resolve public condemnations of your brand, these opinions could sway current or prospective customers against you. 1. It’s public. Complaints, and how you Because of their public nature, response times to deal with them, can be queries in Facebook are even more critical than for seen by everyone and traditional channels such as telephone and email. come from your brand. Facebook offers brands a double-edged sword: public complaints are a marketer’s worst nightmare, yet they 2. Not everything needs present an opportunity to show off great customer care. your attention. Companies should not fear communication in the public Facebook is a space for eye. If handled properly, any grumbles can be given many different forms of a positive PR spin with a swift, considerate response. Yet, as an emerging requirement with no defined best communication. Traditional practices, efficient management of customer services ‘ticket raising’ doesn’t quite through social media is a huge challenge. Inevitably, apply for every comment. some companies are doing better than others. In this report, we look to: • Investigate retailers’ average response times to questions and complaints • Determine companies’ attitudes to engagement with their customer bases • Identify means to efficiently manage customer service through Facebook2
    • Introduction Study Findings Conclusion3
    • Introduction Study Findings Conclusion Method In order to gauge the level of customer service delivered through Facebook, we measured the retailers’ average response times to questions and criticisms posted on their pages over a one week period. We marked retailers with a points system based on speed of response, assuming 9am to 5pm business hours, and averaged these across all comments during the period. A total failure to respond received 0 points, whereas the fastest responses, under 30 minutes, scored 5 points. Results Econsultancy’s top ten retailers by fan size Conversocial’s response time rankings The average scores of the companies were incredibly varied, and fan size appears to be irrelevant. We found that some companies are strongly leading the pack, with the top two having an average response time under one hour - good by any customer service standard - while some lagged far behind, leaving the majority, or even all, of their customers’ comments ignored.4
    • Introduction Study Findings Conclusion5
    • Introduction Study Findings Conclusion Quick responses deliver perfect earned media Responding in a timely manner pays off. If you are speedy, it will be appreciated; and this appreciation will be shared. Public words of praise are something marketers will go to great lengths to obtain – in Facebook you can get this organically by following simple principles of good customer service. Gratitude is visible to others and leaves a great impression for page visitors, giving confidence that if they were ever to have a query it would be answered in the same efficient manner. Dealing with issues quickly can also prevent the spread of further complaints, providing public answers to FAQs. Public customer service allows you to maintain customer loyalty and get repeat business, but it also provides an opportunity to demonstrate your strengths to a huge audience. Positive feedback from a satisfied Next customer Gratitude is visible to others and leaves a great impression for page visitors...6
    • Introduction Study Findings Conclusion Ignore your fans and your brand will suffer Customer questions are lost amongst spam on the Amazon page On some pages, we found large numbers of queries and complaints that were left unanswered. During our week of investigation, Amazon did not reply to a single query, even though they were regularly putting out marketing messages. The Amazon UK page has a lot of spam posted to the wall from 3rd party sites and private sellers trying to exploit Amazon’s large fan base to promote their own products. A page cluttered with adverts not only makes the page irrelevant and undermines carefully constructed branding, but makes customer service issues even harder to isolate.7
    • Introduction Study Findings Conclusion While private complaints via email or phone will only ever be known to a handful of people, Facebook messages are in the public domain, making it imperative that they are not ignored. Quick reactions give a competitive advantage, but there is an even greater difference between companies which reply and those who ignore queries. This shouts to your customers that you are not interested in their feedback and simply wish to push out one-way marketing messages. Your brand reputation is damaged, not just in Facebook but offline as well. Topshop have experienced backlash from their struggle to stay on top of their customers’ questions and complaints. You cannot assume that neglected comments will be hidden in large volumes. Your fans will notice, and point out your shortcomings. A disgruntled customer directs others to a history of comments ignored by Topshop’s “helpers”8
    • Introduction Study Findings Conclusion If you don’t want a two-way conversation, you shouldn’t be on Facebook The different approaches of companies towards their Facebook page wall stood out clearly in our investigation. Many companies are clearly afraid of engaging in real conversation with their customers, hoping they can ignore it. Valid concerns about displaying consumer complaints to the entire fan base, along with spam posts and protests against the brand, cannot be addressed by disabling your wall and trying to block customers from speaking back. Companies, including River Island, have chosen to prevent fans from writing on their walls. So instead, their customers post complaints under the pages’ marketing updates, hidden amongst general comments and much more likely to be left unanswered. Picking out the messages you should respond to in this situation is a logistical nightmare. Marks and Spencer have a respectable average response time as in their case they have an open wall and respond to posts promptly. Yet even they find it hard to reply to comments made underneath their marketing messages. Just finding customer service issues can be a huge challenge, even before you try to deal with them appropriately. The customer and the firm both lose out: customers will not leave your neglect unnoticed. In our study we found that after being ignored, customers would often resort to even more negative comments to try and elicit a response. In general, we found that queries or complaints made under messages posted by the brand are most likely to remain unanswered. The River Island page, with no wall, leads fans to marketing updates as the first opportunity they see to reach out. Many companies are clearly afraid of engaging in real conversation with their customers...9
    • Introduction Study Findings Conclusion Forcing fans to comment on page posts disrupts their marketing value, and actually results in customer service issues becoming more visible across Facebook, not less. Whereas a wall post is only visible when someone visits the page, comments on page updates are visible directly in the newsfeed of all of your fans. Fans are not deterred by a disabled wall, but will simply hijack your updates. An update dominated by complaints. Customers’ complaints gather momentum as they are spread across fans’ newsfeeds. Communication should be encouraged and directed to the page wall. It is much better to overcome fears of bad PR with effective customer support and moderation than to bury your head in the sand and tarnish your marketing efforts.10
    • Introduction Study Findings Conclusion Make it personal In social media, responses to your customers warrant a more personal experience. A different type of service is expected, which fits in with the informal nature of a company-customer community. It is a good idea to let fans know that they are communicating with a person rather than just a logo; leaving agents’ names gives a personalised approach to each response and allows for more personal communication between brand and customer. ASOS, who were near the top in our study of response times, do this well. ASOS helper, Karen, managed to turn around an unhappy customer by dealing with the problem personally, leaving her name, and is thanked directly.11
    • Introduction Study Findings Conclusion12
    • Introduction Study Findings Conclusion Conclusion Although it is tough to manage communications through social networks efficiently, failing to invest sufficient time and resources into customer service can completely undermine your company’s positive efforts to grow an audience and boost brand awareness in Facebook. Conversations on social networks should follow the same rules as any other. They are two-way. Customers will answer your marketing calls as long as you answer their questions; no one likes to be caught in a monologue. But making this happen is certainly more challenging than in more established channels. Social networks present completely new obstacles for both marketers and customer service agents. Complaints and responses are public, giving customer care an even more central position in brand management. Dealing with many different forms of conversation within a single space requires a new approach - both organisational and conceptual. Business must learn how to adapt, and become social. This means embracing the two-way nature of Facebook and being fully prepared for its continual growth as a major communication channel. As has been shown, some are managing better than others. The main reason for this seems to be the logistical difficulty of isolating questions and complaints from huge volumes of less critical comments relating to marketing messages. In Facebook, not everything needs your attention, but how do you find the things that do? The problem was strongest for companies like River Island who disabled their wall, or those like Amazon who didn’t even attempt to tackle customer service. But even Marks and Spencer, who respond swiftly to issues posted on their page, and show a real dedication to social customer care, struggle to stay on top of problems hidden amongst their updates. To keep up with the pace, businesses must give social networks the attention and resources they need to be valuable. We have pulled together a few tips from our study to help other companies join some of the UK’s most efficient retailers in delivering great social customer service.13
    • Introduction Study Findings Conclusion Tips for great customer service in Facebook Always reply Do not be selective about which of your customers get a response and those who do not – each ignored complaint or question reflects negatively on your brand and can easily spread to a large audience. A policy of zero customer support is deadly on Facebook; if you can’t manage two-way conversation, you’re in the wrong place. Enable your wall There is no benefit in trying to hide from complaints. Your company will waste time seeking out reputation risks and upset your customers in the process. It is much better to channel customer service issues on to your wall, rather than spread them to all of your fans via updates visible in the newsfeed. Monitor your fan page throughout the day Give social media the same level of attention as email and phone calls. Applying tighter SLAs for social media could give you the competitive edge in the developing space of social customer service. Add personality to your responses Let your customers know who they are speaking to. This is even more important in Facebook and Twitter than via email support, as your fans and followers expect a different experience of your brand. This is an ideal opportunity to show your customers what kind of company you are – ideally one with real people who care. Use a page management tool with customer service workflow Ensure you don’t miss comments and posts, and filter large volumes of interactions easily. Unlike traditional service channels such as email and phone, not every message on Facebook requires follow up action; and comments on photos or older posts are not easily visible without searching for them. Efficiency features such as auto-flagging and team workflow make it easy to see what needs to be dealt with and what your colleagues have already taken care of.14
    • Introduction Study Findings ConclusionConversocial is Integrated Social CRM and Marketing Software for Facebook and Twitter that provides advanced publishing, insights and comment management tools. Efficientcross-departmental workflow saves time and makes scalable conversation management possible. Using Conversocial’s collaborative platform, companies can interpret what their customers need, make better marketing decisions and deliver excellent customer service.If you would like to learn more about Conversocial, you can visit www.conversocial.com where you can sign up for a 14 day free trial. Contact: +44 (0)2076085208 info@conversocial.com @conversocial