How Social Media is Changing Customer Service

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How Social Media is Changing Customer Service

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How Social Media is Changing Customer Service

  1. 1. How Social Media isChanging CustomerService
  2. 2. How Social Media is Changing Customer ServiceBusinesses have been relatively quick to adopt social media for marketing and public relations, buthave been slower in realizing its role as a hub for customer support and maintaining customerrelationships. While the concept of social service is not new, too few organizations have trulyharnessed the power of social customer service, even though nearly a third of tweets to brands aresupport-related.Social media is slowly taking more of the workload historically reserved for email and telephone and isbeing used for everything from product evangelism to sales inquiries and support requests. Socialchannels are becoming more and more favored as a communication channel of choice by consumers.Twitter, Facebook and mobile technologies give consumers the easiest, most direct approach forsupport, but it’s the one businesses are least prepared to handle. In fact, a variety of studies havefound that somewhere between 25-55% of customer service inquiries on Facebook and Twitter gocompletely ignored.In a recent American Express survey1, social media savvy consumers reported that they’d spend 21%more with a business that delivered great service, compared to the general population at 13%. What’smore is that these consumers were also three times as likely to share positive service experiences thanthe average customer. Is your business leaving money (and loyalty) on the table by ignoring customers’comments and issues on the web?Knowing how to use social media channels to provide answers can help your company gain valuablefeedback, build customer loyalty and drive sales. But how does a business effectively use social mediafor customer support? And what factors should be considered when starting out?Build a Team of Brand AdvocatesThe single most important part of using social media for customer service is to choose passionate,considerate people and train them thoroughly with social media tools. They will be interacting witheveryone from current and potential customers to online influencers. Trusting in their ability to respondin a timely and appropriate manner is paramount to your company’s social media success.While social media doesn’t fit neatly into one department, it’simportant to choose people who are passionate about the Your employees should be brandcustomer to handle your company’s support channels. Look toleverage the customer service team you currently have in place. advocates too. Their passion andAre any of your employees already using social media? If enthusiasm will be reflected inproperly trained to represent the brand on all social platforms, the level of service they provide.these employees become the linchpin to maintaining andgrowing your customer base. sproutsocial.com 1 (866) 878-3231
  3. 3. How Social Media is Changing Customer ServiceUsing a social media management tool to organize your social accounts and team member tasks canhelp ensure that each comment is handled properly. Your social media team will be able to monitorbrand mentions, review conversation histories between customers and the brand, and seamlesslymanage support tickets from one platform. Take advantage of the opportunity to connect personallywith consumers, turning the casual customer into a loyal brand advocate.Ensure Your Social Team Is Equipped to Solve ProblemsSocial is an unprecedented opportunity to deliver great service, but it is also a potential source offrustration for your customers if the team manning your social media accounts is not equipped or ableto solve problems.Just as consumers have grown impatient with phone trees and hold time, there is growing frustrationwhen requests for help through social media are met with an initial response but nothing further. Thepitfall here is that these individuals have already proven to be vocal in their need for assistance, andgetting the run-around can quickly turn them against you.A common approach to social media is to put marketing and PR professionals behind the wheel, whichmay be the right choice, but if they are not equipped to solve problems, the efforts can do more harmthan good.More important than having all the answers is being able to incite action in your organization to drivethe issue toward resolution. Your team should be equally versed in quick response, empathy andfollow-through and possess the authority to get resolution for your customers.Customers have increasing expectations of social support and given the advantages technologyprovides, business should strive to make this the most efficient support channel available. Socialmedia is already the most convenient channel of communication for customers, and the volume andimportance of this channel will only increase.Put the Social in Social MediaWhen it comes to social media, organizations tend to focus on the message rather than therelationship. As Frank Eliason noted in @YourService2, social media is “an incredibly personal spacebuilt with human connections.” So give your social media team the opportunity to inject theirpersonality into responses and interactions with customers. Your clients will not only get the help theyneed, but know that someone is genuinely listening and responding to their concerns. sproutsocial.com 1 (866) 878-3231
  4. 4. How Social Media is Changing Customer ServiceAdditionally, communication shouldn’t be one-sided. If your customers take the time to reach out,make sure your team returns the favor and responds – even if it’s just to say thank you. Take a look atZappos.com’s Twitter page for examples of personable responses to customer comments. Tweets bycustomers, whether positive or negative, are met with a response. A satisfied customer posted, “I lovezappos.com! One day shipping for free!” Minutes later, a Zappos team member responded with, “Isn’tthat the greatest? We love you, too!” Taking the time to just say thank you or share in the excitement ofyour customers’ positive experiences can help your customer service go from expected to exceptional.Monitoring brand mentions and industry keywords is another great way to show your customers thatyou’re listening and available to help. As illustrated in the example above, Zappos not only replied to acustomer’s tweet, but did so even though the user hadn’t directly tagged them in the message. Bybeing proactive and playful, the company was able to connect with the customer, by focusing on theperson, not the sales pitch.It’s important that your chosen tools also maintain a record ofinteraction so your social team has the context and history “Social media is an incrediblyneeded to effectively help the customer. Your team should personal space built with humanhave access to past conversations and know exactly who on connections.”your team has interacted with the customer. Having access tothis context and knowledge of all responses is essential to Frank Eliason, @YourServiceavoid making customers repeat themselves or feel like they aredealing with robots.Everyone loves being remembered and social technology gives us an opportunity for 100% recall of pastinteractions, which when coupled with empathy and personality, can make for an excellent support experience. sproutsocial.com 1 (866) 878-3231
  5. 5. How Social Media is Changing Customer Service Conversation history allowed for seamless communication with a customer over a two month period.Engage Publicly and PromptlyWhile there’s no way to control what people say about your company, simply ignoring a customer willnot solve the problem or make it disappear. Would you turn your back toward a customer who walkedinto your store or hang up on them if they called? Unlikely. Social media should be no different.No company is immune to dissatisfied customers, but theway in which unflattering reviews or critical comments are According to a recent report,handled – especially online – can be the differentiator betweena small blip on the radar and a social media crisis. There will 25% of social media users expectbe times that a customer posts negative comments about a response from a brand withinyour company, no matter how much you’ve gone out of your one hour, while 6% expect oneway to try to help them. The key to keeping this under control within 10 minutes.3is to show that you’re listening and responding in aprofessional, helpful and friendly way.By quickly and publicly replying to negative comments online, you can help illustrate to othercustomers that your organization is committed to excellent service. In a recent STELLAService study4of the top 25 online retailers, only 44% of customer service questions asked were replied to within 24hours. Take advantage of this opportunity to not only ‘WOW’ your customers, but also outdo yourcompetition. sproutsocial.com 1 (866) 878-3231
  6. 6. How Social Media is Changing Customer ServiceUsing a social media management tool with help desk features can also assist in handling these typesof situations. The right tool can allow your social team to stay up-to-date with known support issuesand task online posts to appropriate team members or departments for immediate resolution. Inaddition, service representatives will be able to review comprehensive customer history profiles toavoid duplicate questions - all from within one dashboard.Setting ExpectationsThe worst thing a brand can do in terms of social media is toignore all comments and questions that come in through Nearly one third of tweets toestablished social channels. Social media is “open” seven major brands are support-related.5days a week, 365 days a year, and customers expectbusinesses to be available around-the-clock to providereal-time customer support.While this isn’t feasible for all businesses, providing other ways to get help (e.g. a customer supportemail address, phone number, or forum) and posting when social accounts will be staffed can givecustomers realistic expectations about response time. Though not all customers check feeds beforemessaging a business, being upfront about when you’ll be online can illustrate that your business ismaking every effort to provide service.If negative comments filling your company’s Twitter profile are a concern, creating a separate customersupport profile can be an easy solution. By using a different Twitter account to handle questions orcomplaints, your customers will also get the answers they need as well as know where to go for themost timely and helpful answers should future cases arise.Know When to Take It OfflineSocial media is best used for simple customer service questions. Since many customer servicequestions and answers are personal in nature, identify which types of questions, issues, and concernsshould be taken offline.Jamie Lynn Morgan, social media manager for Food Services of America (Spokane), advises her clientsto “handle every complaint delicately, but to always respond publicly”. She encourages businesses totry and take the situation offline by asking the customer if they can call or email to resolve the issue.This allows the company to assist the upset customer in the best way possible, without filling socialprofiles with negative comments, while still showing other customers that the brand is responsive. sproutsocial.com 1 (866) 878-3231
  7. 7. How Social Media is Changing Customer ServiceDelta Airlines has a few standard tweets that are used to leadconversations offline. Scroll through the @DeltaAssist timelineand you’ll likely find posts that say, “Let me see what I can do.Can you DM the confirmation code?” or tweets that direct “Handle every complaintpeople to specific phone numbers to get help from different delicately, but always respondDelta departments. publicly.”Trying to direct a customer to resolve an issue offline is a Jamie Lynn Morgangreat way to reduce the amount of negative or unfavorablecomments about your company online. However, it’simportant to assist customers as best you can online, if that’sthe platform in which they feel most comfortable communicating.Everyone is an InfluencerFor as long as there have been ways to measure someone’s online “influence”, brands have focused atleast part of their efforts on keeping the influential customers happy. While this can’t hurt, it’sincreasingly important that this strategy not come at the expense of everyone else.Social Media influence measurement is not an exact science, and offline and online influence do notcorrelate directly. Allowing your social team to make assumptions about someone’s worth to yourcompany based on these measures can be very problematic.While keeping people with a loud online “voice” happy is a good idea, any attempts at prioritizationshould consider the value a person represents as a customer first, and online influencer second. Thebest rule of thumb is to treat everyone like an influencer, secret shopper, or “Undercover Boss”. Giveeveryone an exceptional experience.Chances are your influential customers do not significantly outspend the less socially celebrated, so thecost of losing either is high, but collectively we do not act accordingly.SummaryWhen developing your digital strategy, incorporating a strong social media team and putting processesin place to handle delicate situations is a necessity. You want to ensure you are giving your customersa reason to be brand advocates.Here are some key points to make sure your company stands out from the competition when it comesto using social media for customer support: sproutsocial.com 1 (866) 878-3231
  8. 8. How Social Media is Changing Customer Service Train your team. Make sure they are brand advocates themselves, they know how to respond to customer inquiries, and they have the necessary resources to solve problems. Use the right tools. A social media management tool with help desk integration will ensure that your team is well organized, aware of every mention, and has the right resources to respond. Respond promptly. While some inquiries require more research than others, let your customers know you’re looking into an issue. Leave those lines of communication open, rather than keep your customers guessing. Be human. The true power of social media lies in the fact that consumers can have closer interactions with businesses. Your team’s personalities will be your greatest asset. Your customers will respond best when they know they’re talking to a real person. Treat everyone like an online influencer. Give all of your current and potential customers exceptional service, regardless of online scores of influence.Social media presents an incredible opportunity to connect with customers on a level never seenbefore. Customers will only continue to use social media as a customer support platform and youneed to make sure your business is prepared to handle it. For more information or to start your free 30-day trial, visit sproutsocial.com. Follow us! sproutsocial.com youtube.com/sproutsocial twitter.com/sproutsocial sproutsocial.com/insights facebook.com/sproutsocialincFOOTNOTES:1 http://about.americanexpress.com/news/pr/2012/gcsb.aspx2 http://www.amazon.com/At-Your-Service-Customers-Techniques/dp/1118217225/ ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1340303848&sr=8-1&keywords=%40yourservice3 http://www.informationweek.com/news/smb/ebusiness/2290005664 http://happycustomer.stellaservice.com/2012/05/30/most-customer-service-tweet s-go-unanswered-within-24-hours/5 Independent Study by Sprout Social
  9. 9. How SocialMedia isChangingCustomerService.

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