There are so many moving parts to a strong customer service strategy, it's easy overlook the benefits of social media. But do so at your own peril. In today's world, a presence on social media is as important as having a toll-free phone number. Here are just a few of the reasons why.
Reap the benefits of two-way brand engagement. Customers enjoy it when businesses share information, tips, ideas, and sometimes even humorous banter across social media. Many consumers love to send a message out to their favorite brands over social channels and are excited when they respond back. Two-way engagement on social media is a great way to build brand loyalty and help give your company its own voice.
Consider social media an extension of your contact info. Today's consumers expect a response to their comments or concerns within hours, not days. Social media lets customers effortlessly reach out to you without getting stuck on hold or waiting for an email response. Customers don't want to go through a lot of hassle to find your phone number or email address so providing them with a quick way to access you on a service they already use just makes good business sense.
Nip complaints in the bud with ease. Avoiding social media won't stop customers from speaking up on Twitter or Facebook if they have a complaint. If you have a presence on social channels, at least you'll know about issues and can address them promptly to get ahead of the situation. Studies show that 70 percent of brands on social outlets respond to customer complaints within the first 24 hours. If you aren't there to do it, your competitors will be happy to pick up the slack.
Spot trends as -- or before -- they occur. Agile brands keep their ear to the ground (or, in this case, the internet) and pay close attention to what consumers are talking about in order to spot trends before it's too late. Digesting pages of analytics and forecasts is one way to get the job done but it's just as useful to monitor hashtags on Twitter to eavesdrop your on industry and get a head start on providing customers what they want.
Enjoy additional access to your customers. Businesses are reminded time and time again, and for good reason, that social media channels shouldn't be considered an advertising opportunity. While it's true that it's not the right medium for a full-bore sales campaign, there's nothing keeping brands from sharing a coupon or linking to their sales event. Customers may opt out of your mailing list but businesses report a high level of engagement on social sites like Instagram and Twitter.
When it comes to social media, the barrier for entry is low but the return on investment is high so don't overlook this key component of your customer service strategy. Social marketing may have started out as an experiment but it's now an essential part of getting -- and keeping -- customers.
Image: Rachel Voorhees