According to the Nielson Social Media Report for 2012, social care (customer service using social media) is fast becoming one of the most popular methods for customers to air their compliments or grievances, and be reached by the companies they are discussing. In fact, one in three customers prefer social care for getting in touch, rather than contacting a company by phone.
Amazingly, 70% of customer questions on Twitter are being ignored, as reported by Socially Devoted. And according to Social Mouths, 86% will stop doing business with your company because of bad service experiences, and 51% will only give you one chance to earn back their trust. Oh, and 50% of social media users in the US expect a reply to their complaint within an hour, 24 hours a day — so you must be kind, competent, and quick in your social care!
All these statistics show that customer service is an incredibly important part of social media. You need to be where your customers are, and be ready to interact with them. It’s another great reason to have a social media policy in place where you cover the rules for handling situations, what is and is not okay, and the workflow processes your company will use to respond to your customers.
It’s also important to run regular searches of social networks and blogs to find out how and where your brand is being mentioned (be sure to check for product names, applicable keywords, and common misspellings!) so you can jump in on the conversation and maintain your brand reputation.
Lucky for you, we’ve got some tips for how you can start (or improve!) your brand’s social care.
1. Consider using a dedicated Twitter handle to interact with customers asking questions, complimenting the brand, or complaining about a problem or issue they are having. 30% of companies in the Interbrand 100 (which ranks businesses based on financial status) use them to separate their customer service dealings from their primary account. This allows you to separate the amount of tweets coming from your account and keep general attention away from customer problems or complaints out of your main feed.
2. Some problems are too complex to cover 140 characters at a time. If a customer is hoping to get a specific situation regarding personal information (account information, order numbers, etc.), you can only do so much before you need to start collecting their personal information. In these cases, let the customer know you’ll need to continue the conversation offline and let them know how to get in touch with you.
3. In situations where a customer is particularly verbose in their displeasure, you might also want to go offline. If you’ll be offering them a special discount that you don’t want all your followers to know about, or you want to decrease the amount of negativity coming from their end and contain it in a personal phone conversation, ask if you can take the conversation offline to better assist their needs. Continue to be kind and professional, no matter how disrespectful the customer may be, and encourage the customer to reach you by another method.
4. If a customer is asking a question or voicing a complaint, respond. Unless the customer is using blatantly offensive language, respond in a calm and understanding manner as quickly as possible. Social media has conditioned customers to get feedback almost immediately. Responding kindly, quickly, and appropriately will diminish the risk that the angry customer will take to multiple outlets to air his or her grievances. Angry customers who receive prompt, helpful attention often turn in to some of your biggest brand ambassadors!
5. Trolls (not the bridge-guarding kind… the negative-attention-Internet-lurking kind) and blatant foul language are common signals that someone is just looking for trouble and not for help or honest frustration with your brand. You don’t need to respond to everyone.
6. Remember that anything you say online is being recorded… whether by the archiving system your company uses to keep compliant, or potentially by someone else. If you wouldn’t say it with your boss looking directly over your shoulder, don’t post it.