Customer Service on Social Media


A companies’ presence on social media is a beneficial trend because it has enabled consumers and brands to have an equal voice in a public forum. However, businesses should not just utilize social media for outbound marketing purposes. In fact, customer service on social media holds a greater opportunity for companies in that a company can maintain brand loyalty much more handily through this avenue.

A recent Social Media Benchmark study from J.D. Power and Associates found that 67 percent of consumers have used a company’s social media page for service, compared to only 33 percent for marketing purposes. Below are five business-centric reasons to capitalize on this trend, along with some guidelines for maintenance.

1. It offers a personalized brand experience.

By engaging with the consumers individually, they feel connected. If customer service representatives online introduce themselves or use signatures in correspondence, those gestures will indicate personal, prioritized care to the consumers. Because people favor dealing with other people rather than corporations, adding those aspects will humanize your brand. Customers will respect a response that is tailored specifically to their question.

“Social media also allows you to think carefully about your response and present it in a more casual, conversational tone. This way, you can retain your brand voice while writing and communicating like a human, thus humanizing your brand,” said Jayson DeMers of Forbes.

social-customer-service-1“Social media also allows you to think carefully about your response and present it in a more casual, conversational tone. This way, you can retain your brand voice while writing and communicating like a human, thus humanizing your brand,” said Jayson DeMers of Forbes.

Entrepeneur.com contributor Alice Martin added: “Your attention in responding to them can enhance loyalty and create a stronger emotional connection to your brands.”

Additionally, providing an opportunity to connect in another medium such as e-mail or phone can bring the correspondence to an even more personal level. Just be sure not to funnel comments down the line unnecessarily.

2. It’s immediate and reliable.

We live in a “Me-first” society. When people have a problem, they want a solution as soon as possible — not in a few days after a message is e-mailed and sorted, or after holding on the phone line for 30 minutes.

The minute somebody makes a post on your Facebook wall or tweets mentioning your brand, the social media administrator will receive a notification.

 For this reason, people may expect instantaneous replies, but effective communication of representative availability, or “sign-on” and “sign-off” posts can help prepare consumers for what to anticipate. Publishing availability and community expectations — and sticking to them — helps prevent confusion and frustration, improving the customer service experience.

3. Customers will respect your transparency.

Sure, dealing with consumers in a public forum is scary, but that is even more of a reason to do it! As DeMers said, the candidness of social media is all about vindication for the consumer.

“By allowing your customers to make their complaints or questions public in this way, you’re giving them an immediate outlet. They feel in control, and appreciate the urgency companies feel to respond when the issue is made public,” he explained.

 The consumer in question and others alike will respond with confidence in your brand after a positive customer service experience on social media.

4. follow up is easy.

Maintaining that strong customer relationship after a problem is resolved will strengthen the bond between a consumer and a brand. Always check back in with customers to make sure their experience was satisfying and ask what other action may need to be taken. It will end all interactions on a strong, solid note.

A simple way to remember to follow up and to keep all questions and complaints apart from other correspondence is to set up a separate account or profile strictly for customer service only, as UPS did with its customer support profile on Twitter, @UPSHelp. Not only does it make it easier for you to keep things straight as the brand, but it will be easier for the customers to find where to make their comments and voice their concerns.

Furthermore, keeping a service profile segmented from a social marketing one also makes brands’ analytic data more meaningful; gauging marketing efforts will be more effective without statistics being marred by service requests.

5. It gives you the opportunity to go above and beyond.

Anything worth doing is worth doing well. Go big or go home. However you put it, social media gives you the chance to “elevate yourself above the competition and go the extra mile to ensure an ongoing commitment,” Martin wrote. Find ways to give back to consumers in ways that your competitors do not or cannot.

BONUS:

So far, the reasons discussed have been advantageous to both the consumer and the brand, but there are reasons to provide customer service via social media that are purely selfish on the part of the brand.

First, you’re encouraging more brand mentions. Anything pointing back to your brand raises visibility and SEO rankings — just as long as you remember to respond in a positive manner to these mentions. Also, people are social by nature, especially those who engage in SOCIAL media, so they are more likely to tell others about their experience with your brand. Word-of-mouth is the most effective and efficient form of advertising! Control the conversation to the greatest extent possible by providing unforgettably positive interactions on social media.

Nowadays, consumers seem to be going to social media first and foremost for attempted customer service interactions with brands. Don’t miss the boat! While resolving issues and answering customer questions through social media does leave you vulnerable, the risk is worth the rewards. So don’t be afraid — if done right, providing customer service on social media can lead to more satisfied, vocal customers.

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