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5 customer services mistakes to avoid on social

3rd Oct 2017
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Social media platforms have evolved from a place where people connect with close friends, to a platform on which businesses can rely to grow and serve their customers. Today, social media has become an integral part of many organizations; customer support apparatus. For example, Facebook recently announced that they would hire an additional 3,000 employees to handle customer complaints.

As customers become increasingly familiar with social media platforms, they have come to expect improved service from brands on social media as well. A recent study found that nearly 70% of customers have turned to either Twitter or Facebook for customer support. A different study showed that one third of all customers in the United States prefer receiving customer support via social media platforms as opposed to over the phone.

This article will help business leaders pinpoint common mistakes that many organizations make when providing customer support via social media. Avoid these mistakes, and watch customer satisfaction and word of mouth referrals grow.

1. Ignoring the important of social media customer service.

It is now more important than ever to provide outstanding customer service. About 70% of all Americans use social media, and 86% of Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 use at least one social media platform.

Brands like Zappos and Amazon, known for providing outstanding customer service on social media platforms, have earned praise from customers and business observers for consistently doing everything possible to leave their clients happy. In contrast, businesses that regularly fail to provide reliable customer service, like Time Warner (now Spectrum), AT&T, and American Airlines, are targets of customer complaints and negative media coverage.

In time, poor customer service will cost brands of all sizes, as customers opt for competitors or avoid the products on offer. Furthermore, brands that are able to consistently provide outstanding customer service will benefit from word of mouth referrals and loyal customers.

2. Failing to move the conversation offline.

While it is important for customer support representatives to promptly reply to a request on social media platforms, it is also important to move customer support away from social networks and onto more direct forms of communication.

Usually the best approach for representatives is to publicly reach out to the customer in need, and to ask to speak with the customer via phone, email, or direct message. Moving the conversation will help to protect the customer should they need to share personal information, and will protect the brand as well.

It is better for a brand to maintain a generally positive social media presence, filled with curated content and customer testimonials, than to create negative content related to customer service issues for other customers or prospective customers to discover.

3. Neglecting to set proper expectations with customers.

A great way to avoid frustrated customers is to convey to them what they can expect from social media customer service. For example, should they tweet at a dedicated customer service handle, or should they contact the brand’s main Twitter profile? Should they use a specific social media platform for support, and how quickly will a support representative reply to a query?

KLM

KLM does a great job of setting clear expectations for customers. In the example above, the airline updates their Twitter profile every 5 minutes with an estimated response time to customers who post a message on Twitter.

This does two important things. First, it shows customers that the organization cares about customer service, and that Twitter is the appropriate channel to use when contacting the brand. Second, it helps customers understand when they should receive a reply, reducing frustration significantly.

4. Misalignment with customer service representatives.

Establishing clear expectations among customer service representatives is just as important as establishing clear expectations with customers. Doing so will help representatives provide the type of service that will encourage clients to share their positive experience with others.

First and foremost, customer service reps should know that they are expected to respond to customers on social media networks. They should be familiar with the various unique qualities of each social network, and ways to use them in order to provide better support. For example, it may be difficult to provide customers with an adequate amount of information with one tweet, so agents should understand how to reply to themselves to create a helpful series of tweets.

Organizations can further improve alignment by creating a customer service playbook that all representatives can reference at any time. This playbook should be updated regularly to coincide with changes to various social media platforms.

5. Viewing customer service as a necessity instead of an opportunity.

Business leaders and customer service representatives should recognize that customer service is not an unfortunate necessity of business, rather a valuable opportunity that can improve customer loyalty and generate word of mouth business.

American Express found that, on average, a customer who has a positive customer service experience shares it with nine other people. Furthermore, a customer who has a negative customer service experience, recounts the experience to sixteen people. This data shows that providing outstanding customer service is a great way to grow any business, and that providing a poor experience will likely hurt a business in the long run.

Conclusion

Social media platforms, whether they are Twitter, Instagram or Facebook, offer brands with a great way to connect with customers and prospective customers. Providing outstanding customer service on social media networks is one way to improve brand sentiment and to grow customers through word of mouth referrals.

Business leaders interested in improving social media based customer service should remember to set clear expectations with agents and with customers, and to remember that the platform offers businesses with a meaningful opportunity that should be taken advantage of.

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