Five ways social media can improve your customer service

5 ways social media can improve customer service

The use of social media to appease irate customers is increasing in popularity, as they turn to these platforms more and more to query orders, to ask questions or to complain. Find out the top five ways that you can use social media to aid your customer service department.

1) Build relationships

The whole point of social media for businesses is to create a real connection with customers. The main reasons consumers will go to social media surrounds the idea that they have a problem – perhaps they want to query an order that hasn’t arrived yet, or perhaps they want to lodge a complaint. This is the kind of feedback that should be encouraged, as you will seem like a company that looks to improve and tackles problems head on rather than ignoring them. 

Listening to such feedback or taking mental notes of the types of questions customers are asking can vastly help you to improve customer service; aside from being able to deal with problems directly, you can identify areas of your site that needs different information or re-structuring, and you can better understand how to tailor your product or service to your customer’s needs.

It is important to remember that speed is of the essence with social media; it moves constantly and you can expect interaction with consumers on a 24/7 basis. In today’s global marketplace, although your team won’t be able to work 24/7 for the most part, those conversations initiated by customers still need responding to and those relationships still need nurturing. Conversocial reported in their research  that 88% of consumers are less likely to purchase from a company that leaves questions on social media unanswered. With this in mind, make sure you set clear policies for your team to work to in terms of response times – that could be two hours or 24, but make sure it is stuck to.

2) Improve service reputation

Along with those clear policies for when you should respond, in big, bold letters you should add that you ALWAYS respond to a query unless there is a very good reason why not to. Remember that no matter how trivial the issue may seem, to your customer they have been so frustrated by the issue that they have reached out to you for help – this should not be ignored if you want to build relationships and give good service. 

This policy will massively increase your brand’s reputation for service, because above all else it shows that you care. Putting a team member’s name after the post also gives your brand more of an identity to the consumer – they feel they are being treated like an individual and their issue is being dealt with by a person rather than being put on hold or stuck in an inbox. In other words, they can trust you to help them.

More often than not, a problem will require more than just a quick tweet back in their direction, and you will need to either investigate the matter further or pass it across to another member of your team. Make sure that, given the avenue they used to contact you and the speed at which they are expecting a response, whoever picks up that query deals with it as quickly as the response times dictate for social media. Ambassador provided some concerning statistics on what can happen if you don’t follow this policy:

• Over half of all social users engage with brands several times a month
• 71% of online customers expect to receive assistance within five minutes of reaching out to a company. If they don’t receive assistant, 48% will leave the site
• Only 36% of customers who ask for assistance via social media have reported effective service
• 70% of those helped via social customer service return as a customer in future
• 92% of consumers in the UK have left one business for another in the last year due to poor customer service

Ensuring and improving your service reputation is crucial, and social media can make or break.

3) Blog your way onto their radars

Blogging can be a great way of generating interest for your brand, telling people about news and developments, promoting offers and also displaying good content to reinforce this idea of you being a resource rather than an organisation that sells products.

You can use it as a forum to tell people about anything company-wise, such as employment opportunities, office moves, contracts and so on, and this will set you up to be seen as a business that is always moving forward, always developing itself and looking for new ways to improve. If you use the space to promote new lines and offers you have on, it shows that you are looking for ways to help the consumer. Then, by posting articles on topics surrounding your industry with comment and interviews, you will be seen as a business that wants start a discussion.

In terms of customer service, this sends a great message out to your audience and provides them with a place where they can go for advice on the industry or on your products and services. If you are seen as a company that encourages this, you will be the one that they will most likely turn to in future when they need something in your field.

4) Be competition-aware

No matter what industry you’re in, it is a safe bet that your competition will already be on the same channels as you. You can get some pointers on ways to improve your own service by picking up on the positives and negatives of their feeds. 

On the one hand, you may see a few techniques for posting that attract more customers – the times they post at, the language they use and the kind of promotions they advertise can all be used to improve your own service. Not only will it give you a better understanding of the consumer and why they are reaching out to them and not you, but it may give you the upper hand if you know they will be launching a new line so that you can make sure you offer a better deal.

On the other hand, what are they doing wrong? How fast they deal with queries and the way in which they deal with complaints can add to your picture of what you can do better. If you scan customer review sites regularly you can not only see what customers are saying about you, your brand and how you compare to others, but you may have the opportunity to deal with those discussions there and then, adding value to the conversation.  

5) Create brand ambassadors

One thing you must really understand about social media and why it is so powerful, is that people like listening to other consumers rather than you and members of your team. They care about the opinions of people like them and who they see as being a fellow customer – they don’t want to end up being sold to because they think you care more about making a sale than helping them find what is right for them.

By sharing reviews on your site, YouTube videos from users and so forth, these will work highly in your favour, because they’re recommendations by customers to other potential customers. You need to use social media to become more than a product or service, but a resource. Again, you need to be seen as the company who will give them the information they need to make an informed decision. 

If you have people who regularly interact with you on these platforms, this is a great opportunity to create brand ambassadors. Simple rewards to those who are continually talking to you, such as a ‘thank you’ promotional code, builds on your relationship with that customer, improves your service reputation, and shows that you are an engaging brand. What is more, research by Ambassador also suggests that loyal customers who receive good social media service spend more – 21% more to be exact! According to them, 71% of consumers who’ve had a good social media service experience with a brand are likely to recommend it to others, creating even more brand advocates.

Conclusions

Customer service is no longer restricted to a single helpline or email address. The expectations of today’s customer both in terms of how they can reach you and when, have completely changed the landscape of eCommerce.

Social media is becoming more and more entwined with the fabric of the global commerce marketplace, and it will be to your detriment that you ignore it. Not only must you build relationships with consumers and offer them an omni-channel, seamless experience no matter what the platform, but you must be seen to add something of value to your industry.

You can no longer give a pre-scheduled post about the latest sale; you have to always be online in order to turn social media into money.

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