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Social Customer Service: 6 Key Tips

25th Apr 2017
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Most retailers have a customer service department; many now have self-service customer service on their websites. Consumers definitely want convenience, speed, and resolution. And when they are not happy, they have options for expressing their grievances. More and more, that venue is social media.

In fact, social media has become a major player in customer relations, and a part of that customer relationship is customer service – ensuring satisfaction and resolving issues. Here are a few stats that will bring this point home:

  • JD Power conducted a survey of online consumers – 67% stated they had contacted a business for support via social media. And that survey is a few years old.
  • According to Gartner, businesses that ignore requests for support on social media have a 15% higher churn rate than those who respond to requests.
  • The good news is that businesses that do engage in customer service on social media will enjoy from 20 – 40% more revenue from those customers they serve. (This according to a Bain and Company study).

Every e-commerce business with a social media presence obviously needs to take steps to move customer service to the venue. Here are six tips for doing just that.

Identify Where Your Customers Hang Out

If you haven’t already done this, you need to now. This step requires an accurate customer persona and then looking at the research (and there’s plenty of it) to learn where that “person” hangs out. It only makes sense to focus your social media presence on the top hangouts.

Get a Social Mention Tool

Once you have determined where you need to be, you will want to be alerted whenever there is a mention of your brand. Fortunately, technology has taken care of that, and some of the tools are quite sophisticated, with both free and premium versions. Choose one that will work for you – you want to be alerted any time your company or brand is mentioned anywhere. You can then access that “mention” and respond accordingly, if necessary. This strategy will allow you to get out in front of customer issues and complaints, because you can address them immediately, rather than just let them hang out there unanswered and for all to see.

Big Quick About It

Here’s a little piece of information that has large ramifications. According to a The Social Habit study, 32% of consumers who contact a business on social media expect to get a response within 30 minutes; another 42% expect that response to come within 60 minutes. Part of that speed can be upgrading your own systems to sort and categorize types of mentions and prioritize responses. System upgrades may require additional training for an IT person, but there are plenty of “boot camps” that can provide quick solutions. If you are in the San Francisco Bay area, for example, the tech camp in Danville may be a solution. But these are all over the country and online as well. The better your technology in the area of CRM, the faster you can respond.

Choose Your Words Carefully

Many mistakes have been made by companies in their responses to customer issues and complaints, and they have paid a price. From ignoring comments and even deleting them (Smucker’s did this in 2014) to American Airline’s automated same phrase no matter what the comment.

American Air

Even worse, however, has been brand spokespersons responding in kind to sarcastic angry comments of consumers. No matter how angry or frustrated a customer may be on social media, the responder must exhibit empathy and offer a personal solution through private messaging.

For humorous and pleasant comments, respond in kind – it will be appreciated.

Get The Complainer Offline

Once you have responded with an empathetic statement, ask the customer to contact you privately, so that you can resolve their problem. Just make certain that this does not “smack” of a customer being passed around. Give them your personal company email or your direct phone number. Assure them you will be handling it personally.

See The Silver Lining

A complaint registered on social media is not something you necessarily enjoy seeing. But you can use it as an opportunity to do two things:

  • You can show your empathy, concern, and willingness to resolve issues in a very public way. This can actually improve your company’s image.
  • You can repair your relationship with the customer by acting swiftly and effectively.

It costs far more to gain a new customer than it does to retain a current one and continue to receive revenue from that loyal customer. Companies thus take lots of care in providing the best customer service possible and using all of the CRM tools that will allow customers to take charge of their own service and support without waiting on hold, being passed around, and becoming frustrated.

Being responsive on social media is just one more tool that companies must have in their customer services boxes. Taking these six steps will go a long way in developing your social support.

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