It is the 21st century, and the world is past snail mail. It is the age of internet customer service where people expect responses as quickly as restaurants serve their favorite dishes, maybe quicker.
After telephonic conversations started fading, digital marketers resorted to emails as the primary medium of communication. But then the emergence of social media changed the landscape once again.
It made interactions real-time and seamless. It also prompted the consumer to become more vocal than ever and express their emotions online at the very instance. It has also presented them with endless options to choose from, and they no longer have to abide by pre-conceived means.
For businesses, it has brought about useful automation and social listening tools to respond to customers efficiently and understand their needs. They have AI chatbots, self-service platforms, and personal messaging platforms to ensure that they solve even the most minute consumer queries with elan.
What is social media customer service?
A Dimensional Research report states that excellent customer service is the primary reason that affects the consumer’s trust in a company. It calls for brands to find ways to improve it and add the missing personalization factor. With social media’s emergence, they found the perfect ally to execute their ideas. Social media customer service is an organized way of letting customers reach out to you and providing them with the necessary support to solve their queries.
It is an ongoing process not limited to pre-purchase or post-purchase scenarios. Even the topics of discussion are far and wide, ranging from addressing complaints to guidance to refunds and so much more. Social media customer service is also a way for brands to generate real-time data for their next move and to understand the effectiveness of their constant tryst to bring in more consumers without losing existing ones.
Why is social media customer service necessary for brands?
People pay for the product and the experience. They buy Apple products as they know that they will get impeccable customer service. So they are willing to pay the premium that the brand demands. The overall experience directly affects your sales, the churn rate, and the loyalty factor.
Not long ago, companies did not pay any heed to customer service. But today, it has become a vital cog in their operations, and everyone is talking about excelling in CRM. According to the Microsoft report, 96 percent of consumers say customer service is an essential factor in maintaining loyalty.
Here is why social media customer service is necessary for brands:
Connect with your customers across the globe.
There are 4.5 billion people who use the internet, with social media users numbering more than 3.5 billion. It invariably means that most of your customers are on one or more social media platforms. It gives you a broad scope to master your customer care plan.
But several surveys point out that most brands aren’t using it the ideal way. Ignoring customer responses, making vague posts, and sending unnecessary promotional messages are some of the things that they should avoid. Instead, excellent social media customer service practices will make your customers feel at home and cultivate a brand image in their heads.
Find better engagement techniques.
It is great to have the traditional means of marketing by your side and excel at them. But social media customer service provides opportunities to serve your customers in the most uncanny ways. You can create trends, give customers access to your team 24*7, and engage with the customers by liking their posts, sharing them, or commenting on them. It will allow you to improve your reach and build relationships that last.
Improving customer loyalty
As per an Accenture report, 33 percent of customers abandoned a business relationship due to a lack of personalization. On every social media platform, there is at least one reaction, such as a like, heart, etc., for every post. It is a form of validation to make the person posting it feels good.
It helps in building up dopamine in the human brain – its pleasure chemical. It is a powerful feeling and enables you to reinstate your love for the person.
The surprising part is that the mechanism is the same for customer relationships too. A too-and-fro positive engagement makes the consumer feel closer to the brand and creates a reciprocity effect. They then feel engaged, and a sense to give it back to the brand prevails in them, thereby generating loyalty.
Engage in the latest trends to win more customers.
One vital aspect of social media is that it is full of trends. There would always be topics that would be hot and generate more interest. Another element that makes it exciting is the presence of people from all over the globe on a single platform.
Social media gives us a plethora of opportunities to engage in ongoing trends or find alternate ways to engage new customers every day. By being active on these platforms and always looking for new opportunities, you will inevitably find a way to engage with people and gradually develop a loyal fan base.
Reduction in churn rate.
It’s no secret that retaining an existing customer is far cheaper for a brand than creating new customers. Mastering the art of social media customer service is one of the essential ways to reduce your churn rates. It is also one of the key differentiators in an increasingly homogenous market where it is difficult to differentiate on product alone. A Gartner report suggests that companies who do not respond to social media messages face up to a 15 percent increase in customer churn rate.
An active social media presence ensures that you know about the current situation and the possible crisis that people are undergoing. It gives you a unique proposition to push remedial products and services in real-time. It will not only solve their issues, but it will also make them feel that you care. It will ensure that they leave your competitors behind to give your offerings a shot.
Better crisis handling
Mistakes are a part of your daily activities, and not a single brand has been able to escape from them. But what matters more is your handling capabilities. In the age of social media, people hold brands more accountable than ever, and it can be a crisis or an opportunity to grow, depending on how you see it.
We all know about Samsung and the way it handled the Note 7 saga. They were constantly running away from it until they couldn’t. It was a significant dent in their brand value and the way people looked at it.
To put things in context, Taylor Swift announced a public boycott of Apple as it did not pay artists for people streaming music in their trial period. The brand accepted the issue, and not only did it apologize for the matter, it publicly declared that it would pay all the artists henceforth, even for streams during the free period.
Mistakes that you can avoid while catering to your customers
Using clickbait to woo customers
It has often been observed that digital marketers resort to clickbait content to boost their engagement. While this may increase traffic for a short period, the overall impact of such an idea is questionable. Click baiting is the way of cleverly using ambiguity during sentence formation to make it look appealing to the customer, even though it may not have any real value.
Missing out on adding personalization
Personalization is a way to convey that you care. It carries a sentimental value that encourages customers to pay the attention that it deserves. Most digital marketers use a single draft for communicating with all their potential clients, and that harms their chances negatively. Some people find it a difficult task, but it is as simple as wishing someone on their birthday.
Asking customers to switch channels
Asking customers to switch channels regularly will invariably frustrate customers and lead to a broken customer journey. It can also pose unwanted security threats to them. As per a Forbes report, the top 10 healthcare breaches in 2015 resulted in 111 million customers’ data being exposed, and 9 out of those were due to IT incidents or hacking.
Further, a broken customer journey has a higher chance of a negative word-of-mouth review, which can decapitate your marketing tactics.
Using outdated skills for Gen-Z customers
We are in a world that is evolving every second, and we must keep adapting and adjusting. If you do not find free resources to help you level up, you can always find eminent people running courses for minimal prices. In the world of the internet, you cannot merely resort to radio advertisements to sell your products and services.
Very few people take the time to give feedback. If a customer is doing it for your brand, you must reply promptly. If you choose to react otherwise, you are well on track to lose that customer. It is the reason why most businesses choose a separate section dedicated only to responding to customer feedback.
Unnecessary delay in feedback to customers
A Microsoft survey states that 65 percent of people aged 18 to 34 believe social media to be an effective customer channel.
If you look at Facebook business pages, you will often come across a time badge. It is exclusive to businesses that respond to at least 90 percent of queries within 15 minutes of receipt get it.
It proves the importance of promptly replying to your customer, even for the most trivial matters. There are several ways of reducing FRT (First Response Time) efficiently. You can use email autoresponders, set up customer service software, or use social listening tools to set up alerts to inform you about every incoming message. These seemingly trifling changes can go a long way toward improving your overall scorecard.
Using defensive responses throughout
Often, we find brands sticking to defensive tactics when consumers point out a probable flaw in their products or services. Negative reviews do not go down well with digital marketers, and they try every way possible to hide them under the carpet.
There can be times when you get a handful of reviews that are not praising you, but it is crucial to understand how to deal with them. You need to know when it is time for you to come up and accept it all and seek an apology. If you think that there is any miscommunication, you must clear the air before it is too late.
Misusing an automated response mechanism
Digital marketers use automation to send pre-approved replies to some consumer queries. It saves them time and the resources required to handle every question personally. But there is a fragile line between automation and too much automation.
You must understand the levels appropriate for your products or services and inform your customer care department to handle specific issues themselves from the onset.
Ways to use social listening to improve social media customer service
We cannot deny that social media customer service is a part of our daily life, gaining more importance every day. With more and more people becoming a part of it, which includes the population from the remotest parts of the world, it opens up a new avenue for brands.
Facebook reports that people send more than one billion messages every day to businesses alone, which is a stupendous figure. Customers are shifting to social media to convey their thoughts about a product or service. These posts engage people who are interested in the offering or have tried it themselves.
An American Express study found that a customer who has had a bad experience with a brand is likely to share it with 17 other people. They shared it on social media with 53 more people. If brands want to negate the effects of negative publicity, they must inculcate social listening into their routine tasks.
Here is how social listening helps in improving social media customer service.
Get real-time notifications by setting up alerts
Social listening tools allow you to set up alerts and notifications to find relevant conversations online and receive real-time updates. It will enable you to intervene if necessary too. Keeping track of all the conversations will give you a bird’s-eye view of what is going on around your brand or industry.
Brands go a step further by setting up alerts about their CEO’s name, current campaign slogan, industry keywords, and competitors. It can help you spy on your competition by keeping track of their activities and the customer’s opinion of them. It lets them understand the strategies they are employing and plan their next moves diligently and efficiently.
Respond to queries directly and be transparent.
There are thousands of people who post their issues regarding a product or a service. Surprisingly, a massive chunk of it remains ignored and opaque, and it leads to a poor customer experience. With the help of social listening, users get all the queries on their dashboard, allowing them to look into the matter and respond accordingly promptly.
Apart from that, it is understandable that not every brand has the resources to handle it all in real-time. But instead of dodging the issue or making faulty promises, you must address the same and request people to be patient and communicate that you will take up the query as soon as possible.
Better handling of complaints
An Ameyo report states that 67 percent of customer churn is controllable if the organization resolves issues the first time they occur.
Social media allows people to express their views openly. There can be times when people post some of their grievances on their handles or in public forums. It is the brand’s responsibility to find out if the problem is a common one or is specific to the person posting it. In unique cases, you can personally message them and try to solve the issue.
If there are a lot of people facing the same issue, you can send out a public message explaining how you will handle the problem.
Establishing a personal relationship
Social listening allows users to understand their customers and engage with them by reaching out and addressing their feedback in a timely manner. It enables you to give the response they yearn for and help them out even though they were not asking you directly.
You can DM a list of potential customers and let them know about some of your offerings that are in line with their recent posts and which they may find helpful.
When you have your ears open, you will realize that there are many hidden ways to develop a personal relationship with your customers that you had never known about earlier. It is a win-win situation for both parties involved.
Acknowledging feedback positively
Social media often does not give you a second chance. If you fail to respond the first time, most people won’t bother to post their opinions about you. So acknowledge feedback every time you get one, irrespective of its nature.
Some brands take offense to negative reviews. These rarely have a loyal fanbase and continue to exist somehow. It is imperative for you to take every piece of feedback positively and look for ways to help your customers get over their issues, irrespective of whether they are petty or magnanimous.
Also, train your team to not argue with the customer in any circumstance. They should instead look for common ground that can benefit both parties. It will prevent the chance of any negative review from the concerned consumer too.
Social media customer service is an ongoing process, and we cannot stress enough how important it is for your business plans. To master it, you must have a solid plan and a tool that will help you levitate your team’s efforts.
If you do not have the former, your customer service attempts will end up looking wayward. If you do not have the tools, you will either be late or never know what people are talking about on social media platforms.
Social listening helps you find the right channels you want to keep track of, and it ensures that you never miss out on a conversation about your brand, industry, competition, and audience based on the topics you set up. Looking for all of those manually is a tedious process. Instead, hire an expert who can track all your metrics and give you insights that will help you plan ahead of time.
Social media is not a fighting ground. It is, instead, an opportunity for you to excel and grow your fanbase. It doesn’t matter if you are a small bakery in a narrow lane or a big honcho with skyscraping offices worldwide, a dependable social media consumer service will help one and all today and for years to come.