What’s your stance on social media customer service?
Do you have a plan that your team can implement when things go awry - as they often do in the unpredictable and ever-fluid world of social media platforms?
With so many members of your target audience on social media, you can’t afford to ignore them when they comment on your dedicated channels, but it can be challenging to hit the right note, especially when your audience expresses negative thoughts.
And while every business has unique challenges based on the products and services they offer, there are a few lessons all business owners can learn from the three brands highlighted below about how to provide outstanding social media customer service.
Chobani is a fast-growing yogurt company that needs to do everything it can to compete with the established giants in its industry. To this end, through social media platforms, Chobani ensures it connects with its audience in a way that doesn’t feel like just a canned response.
For example, a customer recently tweeted her love of Chobani, expressing how much she enjoyed eating a particular flavor that the company offered.
But there was more to it because the customer also happened to be recovering from having her wisdom teeth removed, and here’s how Chobani responded:
Notice that Chobani didn’t just wish the customer well, but went a step further and asked her to DM her home address so it could send a personal note?
Doesn’t seem important?
In fact, it’s a huge deal, because it can make your customers feel valued and validated, while also sending a message to other social media users that Chobani isn’t just a faceless, yogurt company - it’s run by human beings that care about other human beings.
The takeaway? Do whatever it takes to respond to every positive comment with a simple ‘thank you,’ and then select a few customers, and go a step further.
For example, if you sell books and a customer tweets love for your business, send that customer a two-for-one coupon, or a discount on a bestseller. You could even ask that customer what book they plan on buying next, then send them a free copy.
Nike stays on top by taking nothing for granted - and that’s especially true when you glance at its social customer service interactions on Twitter.
The company’s @NikeSupport handle is its dedicated social media customer service profile, and its only goal is to resolve customer problems:
Not only does Nike’s social media customer service offer a quick and easy option for people to tweet their issues, they answer questions as quickly as possible, and make sure their answers are easy to understand.
How can you duplicate this type of customer service?
Make sure that when your customers ask questions or express problems they're having with your product or service, that you respond in a timely fashion, AND that you provide clear answers.
This is really important if you sell a service, because problems with services can sometimes be frustrating for customers and require patience on your part.
For example, if you sell software and a customer can’t find the activation code, you may need to post a screenshot to help that customer understand exactly where to get the code.
That may not seem like a big deal, but it could be the difference between a satisfied customer that leaves you a glowing message of thanks, and a disgruntled customer that posts a negative comment about your company’s lack of customer service.
In keeping with its culture of inclusivity, Starbucks has implemented a social media customer service strategy that’s truly all about the customer.
The company’s 'My Starbucks Idea' is a prime example of how businesses can create outstanding goodwill by enabling customers to feel like their ideas can become reality.
What’s ironic is that for all its customer-centric marketing, the My Starbucks Idea was the brand’s first foray into social media marketing, and was launched in 2008 when the company had closed 60 stores in the U.S. and was unsure about its future prospects.
Given this, there was quite a bit of risk in launching a crowdsourcing platform like My Starbucks Idea, where the goal is to encourage customers to send in their ideas about new coffee flavors, new fixed features, or seasonal promotions.
The crowdsourcing idea has been a huge hit, and Starbucks has turned 300 customer-sourced ideas into real promos and products.
So how do you take a page out of Starbucks’ book?
Solicit ideas about ways your customers think they can improve the products or services you offer, or ask your customers to give you ideas about new products or services they’d like to see.
By including them as a valued part of your company, you increase that personal connection, which can make it easier to generate loyalty and repeat business.
Make the Pieces Fit
Providing outstanding social media customer service is a vital piece of your overall marketing puzzle.
Make sure you establish the appropriate response time to customer comments, provide your customers with your social account for support, and include a private messaging option to help resolve more complex problems.
And above all, remember that if you don’t make your social media customers feel valued and solve their problems, someone else likely will.