We now live in a world dominated by Social Media. It not only connects people across the globe, it also provides a marketing platform for businesses to interact with consumers.
The strategy of providing customer service through various social media channels such as Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram etc. is referred to as social media customer service.
Increasingly, conventional methods of customer care service are being replaced by these channels. Consumers use social media to ask questions, give opinions and provide feedback – both positive and negative. It is a powerful tool that continues to present many challenges for most B2B and B2C companies.
“A brand is no longer what we tell the customer it is. It is what the customers tell each other it is!”
- Scott Cook
The practice of social media customer service has been around for a while and one thing has become clear: consumers love being able to interact with brands on social sites like Facebook and Twitter. It’s an empowering tool that allows customers to start conversations with brands in a way that was never possible before. Sometimes conversations are initiated after traditional customer service channels have failed; other times, they are the avenue of first choice. Either way, this platform allows the voices of both satisfied and unsatisfied customers to be exponentially magnified.
“We don’t have a choice on whether we DO social media, the question is how well we DO IT”
- Erik Qualman
If your company is using social media to promote and market itself or your brand, you must also acknowledge that your customers will use your social sites as a customer care outlet and make the commitment to “do” social media well. This means determining how you will track and respond to social activity keeping in mind that customer satisfaction is the key to success of any business. And customer reviews are highly valued by prospective customers. So your focus needs to be on retaining customers and increasing loyalty. Happy customers will automatically bring in new people.
We are in an era where an individual has no time to waste and time is the ultimate luxury. Spontaneous responses are expected and if you fail to do so, customers do not appreciate it. But remember, speed isn’t a solution when your customer issues remain unresolved. Fortunately, social media offers you the opportunity to respond to customers one-on-one and address their specific issues. When you demonstrate your willingness to participate in an open dialog, most customers respond favorably.
“Social Media is not a media. The key is to listen, engage and build relationships”
- David Alston
Listen to what customers have to say, no matter how trivial their comments may seem. There are several social media monitoring tools available, but you’ll still need well-trained customer care agents who can respond promptly and appropriately on behalf of your company.
In a survey conducted by Oracle, 43% of participants stated they expect a direct response to questions they pose on a company’s social media site and 31% of the participants said they wanted direct contact with customer service representatives. This underscores the fact that consumers truly are in the social media driver’s seat and how important it is for you to take their opinions seriously. A fast, genuine response to any social inquiry or complaint is essential as is the need to keep a “live help” option available.
Ultimately, you will also find a lot of unnecessary ‘noise’ is generated via social media. It is the responsibility of the marketing, management and customer care teams to sift through the noise and uncover the conversations that are important. Prioritize the issues and ensure you meet expectations. An annoyed and unhappy customer running free on a social media can damage your brand and your company’s reputation in immeasurable ways.
The above discussion reflects the changing customer service methods. Though challenging, with proper training and expertise, social media customer service can deliver positive results for any organization.
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