Considering that there are more than 1.86 billion active users on Facebook, 319 million on Twitter and over 600 million Instagram users, even if only a tiny percentage of these people are using social media to interact with brands, social customer service is definitely an element marketers need to consider integrating into their marketing and outreach strategy.
The days when business owners regarded social media as a fleeting fad are long gone - now, every marketer has to face the fact that it's becoming increasingly important that they're not only active on social media, but that they're engaging and communicating with their target market. This includes social listening, responding to complaints, providing explanations of any issues, etc.
Brand-costumer relationships are no longer a one-way conversation - social media has given your prospects the opportunity to have their voice heard, not only by your business, but by millions of other users as well. And that public broadcasting element is being used by many as leverage to ensure companies take action.
According to the research conducted by The Guardian, one in four social media users have used a social platform to complain about about a brands' performance. Furthermore, since January 2014, there's been an 8x increase in customer complaints made on social media.
These numbers alone are enough to demonstrate just how important it is to keep your hands on the pulse of your audience in order to develop long-lasting relationships with your customers. It's time for businesses and marketers to stop viewing social media as a push only tool and instead use it as a mechanism which enables them to listen to their audiences' voice and to build meaningful relationships. Doing so can not only help with customer acquisition, but also with customer retention rates by helping enhance a sense of community and loyalty.
Here are three examples of brands who are using social to do just that.
1. JetBlue Airlines
When Alexa Burrows, a passenger of JetBlue airlines, tweeted to the airline's Twitter account about being upset with having to return home after her vacation, she jokingly asked them to roll out a welcome parade in her honor. JetBlue's Twitter team passed the Tweet over to Burrows' destination airport, and JetBlue's local stuff greeted her at the gates with a little parade in her honor. This story went viral and generated positive press for JetBlue, helping them boost audience engagement. Needless to say, It also resulted in a great amount of new customers eager to use airline's services.
Of course, you're business is not expected to actually throw parades any time a customer asks, but this was a great opportunity for JetBlue to both humanize their brand as well as exceed expectations of their customer. Social media is the perfect medium to find opportunities to showcase your brand's personality. Your tone, the images you use, and the way you engage with customers all represent your brand's persona.
Furthermore, the fact that JetBlue actually responded with a small gathering for Alexa, went above and beyond her expectations. Creating a memorable experience can help to strengthen customer relationships, especially with Millennials who prioritze experiences.
Additionally, a memorable customer experience can help with exposure and publicity when your customer shares their experience - which you can almost be sure will happen if you truly are going above and beyond.
Xbox holds the current world record for being the most responsive brand on Twitter.
Though their social customer service work hours are from 6am-12am PT (which is explicitly mentioned in their Twitter bio), within their working hours, they respond to each and every Tweet. Xbox's Twitter team follows through on every complaint they receive and provide step-by-step guidance to resolve any problems their customers Tweet about. Due to this high-quality customer support, they've gained close to a million followers on Twitter.
Be responsive and timely. Responding in a timely manner not only creates a better experience for your customers, but it can potentially lead to more revenue for your business. In 2015, Twitter published a study which showed that customers were willing to pay out almost $20 more for an airline that responded to tweets within six minutes, as opposed to those who waited (or didn't respond at all).
Responsiveness, and providing additional attention and care, matters.
3. Delta Hotels
While attending a conference in Vancouver, Mike McCready stayed at a Delta hotel - a four-star brand of hotels and resorts located primarily in Canada. Though he liked the service and the ambiance of the hotel room, he tweeted (as above) that he wasn't overly impressed with the view from his window.
Even though McCready didn't actually tag the hotel in his tweet (he just mentioned them by name), Delta's Twitter support team located the mention and responded within an hour, offering to provide McCready with some tips for the next time he decided to book a room with Delta.
Not only that, but when McCready returned to his room after the conference, he found a dish of sweets and an apology letter from the hotel's staff. McCready was so impressed that the same day he wrote a post on that experience.
Use social listening tools, like Mention or Hootsuite, to find what people are saying about you so that you can provide timely support. Not every dissatisfied customer will tag you in their complaints, which means if you fail to find these posts, you'll lose out on an opportunity to potentially win the customer back.
Key Tips to Boost Your Social Support Efforts
1. Respond as quickly as possible
A fast response time is key when actioning a customer complaint. Lithium Technologies conducted a study which found that 53% of users expect a brand to respond to their complaint in less than an hour on social, with their dissatisfaction rate rising the longer it takes to see response. It can be difficult to be 'always on', especially for smaller businesses, but using tools like Twitter's 'Responsive' indicator and Facebook's hours of operation fields can provide a clearer idea around expectations.
2. Focus on the platform your customers use
Some audiences prefer communicating with brands through Facebook, some through Twitter. To get most of your social customer service, determine which platforms your primary audience spends the majority of their time on and center your efforts toward those mediums.
You don't have to provide a solution to every problem - in fact, if you immediately jump to a resolution, it's actually possible that it'll backfire as you may make your customer feel like you haven't taken the time to truly hear their problem. Instead, make an effort to listen to what your customers say about your business, show them that you've heard them, and resolve the problem only if you're able to actually do so. The fact is, many times a dissatisfied customer actually cares more about just feeling like they've been understood.
4. Be proactive and ask
Don't be like the majority of businesses and just be reactive. While you could certainly wait for someone to make a complaint before getting in touch, you'll be in much better shape if you're proactive, especially if you want to build a meaningful relationship with your customer. Reach out to followers every now and then to say hello or share a piece of content that's relevant to them. Or feel free to ask them strategic questions to help find out if there are any issues with your product or service that remain overlooked. Being proactive han help build trust and obtain necessary feedback to help eliminate potential problems that you may have otherwise not been aware of.
5. Collect data
One of the greatest advantages of social media is the ability to track what customers, and potential customers, are saying about your brand. This enables you to make the necessary changes in your product, service or general strategy to meet the needs of the market. Collect data by creating customer service surveys and then having your social customer support analyze and leverage the information to resolve the problems your customers encounter to enhance your customer satisfaction rate.
6. Know when to take issues offline
You may find that certain issues can't be resolved on social media alone, but sometimes it's more appropriate to pass the complaint over to the offline support team. That's why your social and customer support providers should be in close collaboration with each other so that there are no information gaps, enabling you to provide customers with a seamless, high-quality support experience.
7. Be creative and look at the possibility of using other platforms
Many businesses disregard Instagram as a social care platform, which could be a huge mistake. Last year Instagram announced their new business profiles, which enable Instagram users to more easily contact a business. Research conducted by Instagram has shown that 60% of Instagrammers learn about products and services on the app, while 75% take actions - like visiting sites, searching, or telling a friend - after being influenced by a post on Instagram. The business case for Instagram highlights that there is demand for customer care on platforms outside of what you might think.
Depending on the industry you operate in, you're going to get a certain amount of negative feedback.
A Zendesk survey showed that only 30% of prospects leave positive reviews on social media, and while some companies prefer to simply ignore negative posts, this strategy can be harmful, as ignoring negative comments won't make them disappear, and many of your prospects still see them.
Failure to respond to dissatisfied customers can lead to a 15% churn rate, according to some reports.
Here are a few tips to use for effective review management:
- Use social listing tools to keep track of social reviews that mention your company
- Acknowledge negative tweets and posts as soon as you can
- Apologize first (ex. Sorry to hear you had this problem...)
- If you can't provide sufficient support right on the social platform tell the dissatisfied client, you'll redirect the issue to support personnel
- Ask the customer how they would like to be contacted (email, phone, etc.)
- Reach out to the customer after the issue is resolved and ask if the response was adequate
Going through this simple process, and giving your technical assistance a personal touch, you're able to show your customers that you care for them and genuinely want to help them out. That, in turn, can help build a positive image in the eyes of your audience and enhance your customer retention rate.
Social care is considered by many authority marketers to be the future of customer service. The trackability, ease of use and efficiency measurement opportunities social media provides, make it almost a perfect customer care tool for businesses of all kinds.