Best Practices on Utilizing Social Media for Customer Service
Beginning 15 years ago, I tried to persuade nonprofits and small companies that I could improve their profitability by using best practices on social media for customer service.
The usual response was, “Facebook? That’s a kids’ toy! Why would I pay money for someone to post on Facebook for me?”
It wasn’t long before everyone realized their business needed a Facebook page, then a Twitter feed and today a WhatsApp number, among others. Today, small businesses that fail to use social media platforms to engage with their customers will get left in the dust.
Especially, if they want to learn what those customers think of their brands.
This engagement can potentially a double-edged sword for small businesses. Those that respond promptly and transparently to customer queries – and complaints -will receive a boost in reputation and confidence from consumers. But setting up a social media platform that is tone-deaf to consumer complaints will create a negative reaction with your audience.
According to a recent study conducted by invespcro, 80% of consumers engage with brands via social media. Additionally, more than a third report that they prefer contacting customer service via social media. Few customers have the patience for waiting to get through to a customer service rep.
The survey noted the following positive results for companies using social media:
69% of U.S. residents said that directly messaging a company makes them feel more confident about the brand
Answering a social media complaint can increase customer advocacy by as much as 25%
84% of U.S. consumers who sent customer service requests through social media say they have received a response from the company.
More than half (51%) of respondents said they were “very likely” and 41% said they were “somewhat likely” to become a repeat customer to a brand that answers their question on social media
Engaging in customer service requests on social media can bring 20% to 40% more revenue per customer
Shifting to social media customer service can reduce cost per contact by as much as 83%
71% of consumers who have had a positive experience with a brand on social media are likely to recommend the brand to their friends and family
59% of Americans with social media accounts believe that social media has made customer service easier
While this is positive news, it also means that if customers send you a tweet or WhatsApp message, most expect a response within 30 minutes.
4 hours is the longest acceptable response time!
What is the best way to respond to a customer complaint?
Be honest. If your company made a mistake, own up and offer the customer a way to properly correct it. Taking the opportunity to transform a negative experience into a positive one can pay out multiples in the long run.
Negative feedback also provides your company with a clear indicator of an error from the customers’ perspective. Do not keep your head in the sand, make your customers happy!
Other Social Media Advantages:
To make social media truly work for you, monitor audience behavior and see what they have to say about your brand. Hootsuite, Digmind, Simply Measured and Twitter Counter are a few of the analytics programs that can help significantly.
These programs will help you identify keywords and concepts that provide valuable information about your industry.
Make a Study of the Social Media Landscape
It’s not all about Twitter. Or Facebook. Don’t only focus on the big platforms. Your customers may be more comfortable reaching out on WhatsApp or leaving reviews on Yelp. If your business is visual, Instagram may offer you an opportunity to showcase your products.
Be Part of the Conversation
Back in those “olden” days, many potential clients turned me down because they thought it was safer for their business to not appear in a Twitter feed. The advice I gave then still stands. Your customers and competitors are going to be talking about you on social media anyway. It is better to engage and control the conversation.