You've no doubt heard the experts say it before: social media is the future of customer service, and they're not lying. Today's consumers expect a response to their Twitter complaint, a reply to their Facebook comment and a 'Like' on their Instagram image.
Research shows that answering a complaint on social can increase customer advocacy as much as 25%, while failing to respond can reduce customer advocacy by as much as 50%. So, with years of social media practice now under their belts, why aren't brands doing a better job with customer service on social media?
No matter the reason, it's no longer an option to ignore customer service via social media channels - the time to implement a social customer service strategy is today.
Here are five ways to effectively engage with your audience on social.
1. Act human
As far as we've come with marketing automation, it's still far from perfect. This is why we can't rely on auto-responses for every scenario - take, for example, the tweet below from a Washington Post reporter about her Uber driver who was on the wrong side of the road. The response she received from the company was inappropriate to her concern and was clearly auto-populated, which only upset the customer more (and prompted her to share her experience via Twitter).
While automated responses make marketers' jobs easier, it's important to take the time to tailor a response to the customer or scenario on social media. In this instance, Uber could have shared more information on the road tests their drivers go through or how they were going to follow up with this particular driver.
In the end, the customer will feel valued and heard, which goes a long way to increase customer advocacy.
2. Be timely
Research shows that 40% of customers who complain on social media expect a response within one hour. Now, that might seem quick, especially if you're reviewing automated responses before they're sent, but from the customer's perspective, they expect the same response on social media as they would if they called the company with a complaint.
If you can't provide a resolution to the customer's problem within an hour, at least let them know that you're working on it and that their feedback is important. The customer service you provide via social media should match the experience a customer would receive offline.
3. Ensure accuracy
While you want to tailor your response to customer inquiries and respond immediately, make sure that you're including accurate information. If your brand doesn't accept returns, don't tell a customer to bring the product to the store, or if a sales representative isn't available to call until next week, don't say they'll be in touch shortly.
Sometimes it can be tough to get all of the information across via social media. If that's the case, then request an email address so that you can follow up with more detail or ask them to call a direct phone number.
Don't be afraid to let them know that you're looking into an answer for them or that you need to run their request through another department - just make sure that you're sharing the right information in a timely fashion.
4. Follow through
If you tell a customer that you need more time to find an answer for them, be sure to actually follow through on that promise - and extra points if you let the customer know via social media (this way, their followers will see your awesome customer service skills).
Additionally, if a customer has ideas to make the brand's product or service better, pass along their feedback to the right department and let the customer know. If they feel like their message is reaching the brand and they're a part of the company's overall process, then they'll be more likely to stay loyal.
5. Engage often
Don't wait until a customer reaches out with a complaint to be active on social media. Part of customer service is participating in the customer's experience with the brand from beginning to end.
FitBit does a great job in engaging with customers all along the sales funnel, encouraging their product users and having conversations with them via social media. Building relationships with customers is another way to build loyalty to the brand.
At this point in time, your brand is on social media and should be engaging with its audience regularly. Responding to customer service requests and building relationships with customers, though, may take a different approach than you're used to. By following some advice on how to enhance customer relations, you can better leverage this tool for marketing and customer service.
Main image via Pixabay