Leveraging social media for customer service

According to JD Power, an estimated 67% of consumers now tap networks like Twitter and Facebook for customer service. These are a new breed of customer, enabled by technology, posting both positive and negative reviews in public forums, on blogs and Facebook and Twitter for all to see including your current or potential customers!

Whilst people will tell their friends about a good customer experience on social media, significantly more will talk about a bad one. It’s down to psychology – one tends to be more motivated by anger – the prevalence of platforms in which to express this anger, combined with the ‘satisfaction’ that you are warning others of your experience, ensures that negative social comments need to be managed, so ignore them at your peril!

I run the social media for Chalke Valley History Festival, a week long Festival set in 5 acres of farm land in the South West of UK. This year we experienced ongoing rainfall prior to the Festival which made the ground fairly wet but manageable, followed by an unprecedented amount of rain in very short periods during the Festival. This was a recipe for mud and more mud as we went through 3 contingency plans – to say they were very challenging conditions for the organisers is an understatement. Naturally, we received some complaints from visitors who got their cars stuck, the toilets were muddy, the pathways had been subsumed into the mud, or were delayed due to the difficult conditions in the car park. But we tackled the issues head on with a proactive plan and messaging that demonstrated we were aware of the problems and doing everything we could to deal with the issues. We responded to any queries as soon as we could (i.e. within minutes) via Twitter and Facebook, posting updates on the blog as well as using these forums to keep updating those coming of the conditions underfoot.

Of course, you can’t please everyone but on the whole the response was positive and the mood at the festival was fun, many embracing the ‘Glasto-History Festival’ mud and thankful they had been reminded to bring appropriate footwear!

So, my advice to those of you ignoring those complaints – Don’t, it can quickly overwhelm and turn into a PR nightmare. Instead define a clear comms plan, understand what needs to be communicated how and when and then go for it. And don’t forget you need to build in flexibility – things change, and fast. Remember if you are using your social channels for customer services, you need to empathise with customers and do what you can to be helpful. Done right, customer service via social is a huge opportunity to engage in conversation around your brand and show others in the industry how you can make a positive impact.

When companies engage and respond to customer service requests over social media, those customers end up spending 20% to 40% more with the company (Bain & Company)

57% of consumers say they’d be somewhat or very influenced to think more highly of a business after seeing positive comments or praise online (Direct Marketing)

Take away tips:

Hearing what customers say about you on social media can be an invaluable tool.

  • Do encourage and respond to feedback but make complaints your priority and set up a policy to deal with them swiftly and efficiently.
  • Develop a comms plan, but be flexible as things change.
  • Use any suggestions to generate ideas to improve your product or service and deal with negative feedback quickly to avoid a PR disaster.
  • How is everyone else doing it? Keep an eye on how your competitors deal with feedback. Note what they are doing right and how you could improve on that.

For larger companies, overwhelmed by the volume of interaction – there are useful tools to automate and streamline the Customer Service offering. Tools like Conversocial and Lithium Reach help by delegating the conversations for handling by different team members, as well as ensuring that requests are properly queued to be addressed by employees in the customer service department.

If you are a small company, get your processes in order and make sure you’re doing all you can to ensure your social accounts are active and manned by someone familiar with the speedy and personal responses that customers expect and and you will reap the rewards of stronger customer loyalty.

Want to outsource your customer service offering on social? Give us a call!

Telephone – 01722 580800 | [email protected]

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