Social Customer Service
Support teams, equipped with telephones, help desk software and live chat, usually don’t have any direct access to the company’s social media profiles. That is one of the reasons customer questions go unanswered.
Social media isn’t only marketing
In comparison with the tools mentioned above, social media is the new kid on the block. Most of the businesses use it to keep feeding followers with promotional content. They are often forgetting that a monologue has nothing to do with communication.
We already know that people share their negative experiences much more often than the positive ones. If such unpleasant thing happens offline – verbally – there’s almost nothing a company can do.
Online, it is a different story. With its biggest social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn, the Internet becomes a heavy weapon in customers’ hands. While news, complaints and comments spread like wildfire and receive an additional boost from the ‘social’ factor, there is finally something businesses can do – get involved.
Doing nothing is the worst thing you can do
For modern companies, social media becomes a front line of customer service. There are 2 ways the support situations can be handled:
- The social profiles need to be supervised by properly trained people who are ready to collect valuable data and provide answers.
- The social media managers can be used as a connection between customers and support reps.
We need to be remember that, in both of these cases, time of reaction matters, so being quick and thorough with replies usually earns you some extra credit.
According to research, social media becomes a front line of customer service
The thing you need to be aware of when using social profiles for customer service is that the community is always watching. Social media is the most transparent communication method as all questions and answers are personalized and public.
Another thing to remember is that deleting negative comments and complains gets you nowhere – it does not solve the problem of an unhappy person and if it is seen by the community – it will unleash a storm of criticism. Try to respond and help that person instead, no matter how angry he or she got.
4 key points for an amazing social media customer service:
- Presence: be there for the customers when they need you.
- Discussion: provoke interactions and build relations.
- Responsiveness: don’t make people wait for each answer.
- Honesty: acknowledge yours mistakes, show you deserve to be trusted.
Lets have a look at two most popular social media platforms used for customer service.
Facebook – place of a billion opportunities
Immediately after they were created, Facebook brand pages naturally turned into an interaction place for customers and the brand owners. People leave a lot of questions on the walls of their favorite or hated brands, while companies that care about their good image (or those who try to save it) respond there.
This natural communication process created a demand for Facebook customer service apps, so the social media employees could manage the communication in an easy and convenient way. The introduction of Facebook Timeline has only strengthened this trend as the external apps can now use Messages feature to connect to customers visiting a brand page.
Brand page of ASOS iss followed by over 2M people interested in latest fashion trends. Since growing number of customers posted questions about their orders, another brand page (ASOSHereToHelp) had been used for interaction between customers and the customer care team. Recently, the company has moved its customer service to Twitter (@ASOS_heretohelp) and… our LiveChat :)
Helping customers is an easy task for a business with a couple of thousands of followers – simple replies to wall posts or to messages is enough. However, with Facebook’s user network approaching 1 billion individuals, some of the brand pages have grown a large fan bases that need to be supported. These companies need dedicated tools. Facebook Customer Service Tools
Apps from Parature, UserVoice, GetSatisfaction and LiveChat all make it easier for customers to contact businesses on a brand page. At the same time, for customer service reps, they turn Facebook page into another entry point for starting the communication.
Twitter – communication one-to-one-to-many
Interactions on Twitter are more dynamic than those of Facebook. They also take form of even more personalized dialogue between a customer and a company. While other users may seem to be a little bit in a background and uninterested in the subject, they really are listening.
There are situations where unhappy users share their negative experience in more detailed form, like Cara Pring’s story on The Commonwealth Bank. In Cara’s interaction, the social media manager of the bank did a good job in responding to her tweets, but all the comments turned out to be empty promises as there was never any real follow up and no solution was offered.
Tweets from Commonwealth Bank were fine, but there was never any follow up with Cara
If you look at the example above, you will think that overall the Commonwealth Bank did not do a good job. Still, they were at least a step ahead of most companies – they responded to customer’s tweets. American Express Global Customer Service Barometer said that the top 25 US online retailers responded only to 44% of customer tweets.
“Only Zappos and LL.Bean Zappos and L.L. Bean proved 100 percent reliable responding to every single tweet within 24 hours. Rounding out the top five most reliable Twitter performers were Overstock.com (replying to 98 percent of all tweets within 24 hours), Dell (98 percent), and Best Buy (89 percent).”
Twitter Customer Service Tools
Staying on top of what’s going on using Twitter’s web interface is hard. That’s where tools like Hootsuite, SproutSocial, TweetDeck or Seesmic come in – they help in managing multiple accounts and responding to tweets, while also keep you up to date on what the world has said about you today. Now, most of them also allows managing other popular platforms like Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, etc.
There are also more support-dedicated tools, like these offered by Assistly and Zendesk. These apps allow connecting the Twitter handle with their software and converting tweets into help desk tickets. Thanks to that, the overall customer service quality should increase, as once the communication is started, customer’s problem should never be left unsolved.
Social Customer Service is a must
As you can see, it really isn’t easy for support teams to keep up with the users of social media. They have high expectations from the start and most of the companies have simply not gone through the social media revolution yet.
It is a hard time for businesses to go through the process of translation to social customer service, however, it is inevitable and whoever completes it quicker will gain an advantage over competitors.