Delivering Great Customer Service on Social Media

customer service 2021

When social media was set up, it was intended for fast, two-way communication between friends and family, but when marketers realized its power, they jumped right in. An earlier article identified the most popular platforms, demographics, and what consumers wanted to see from brands that were pitching them.

The top three choices were honesty, friendliness, and helpfulness, all key components of excellent customer service.

The speed of social media is both a blessing and a curse for marketers. The good news is that it’s quick for consumers seeking information or a product. The bad news is that it’s also quick when customers are unhappy. And because of the speed of social media, both good and bad news travel very rapidly. This is where brands can leverage the speed to deliver great customer service.

What’s the risk? A recent study by Edison Research revealed that 42% of customers complaining about social media expect a response within an hour. As expectations for searching and purchasing accelerate, so does the anticipation of fast customer service. Another 24% said they expect a response in a half-hour or less.

It’s come down to two things: how well the brand listens to customers and how quickly they respond to complaints and issues. A JD Power poll of more than 23,000 consumers found that 67% had contacted a brand for support. At the same time, an independent Gartner study reported that brands who ignore such requests on social media experience a churn rate 15% higher than companies who respond.

When brands respond and engage customers over social media, these same customers spend 20% to 40% more with them, according to yet another study by Bain &Company. It’s a no-brainer. By building good relationships with customers via social support, brands score big wins and enhance the possibility of increasing customer lifetime value. Here are some action steps.

As mentioned in an earlier article, select the right social media platforms that fit the brand’s demographics, taste, and style based on customer frequency of usage and time spent. Continuously monitor social media mentions, both good and negative, with an eye open to those that may not appear to be as obvious. Respond quickly to all and log that information. Remember that speed is important.

Some tools can monitor these mentions, including a few free ones. If on Facebook and/or Twitter, use a program like a Groove to bring in social media mentions to the brand’s help desk to generate support tickets and launch quick responses

Some issues may be particularly sensitive and/or personal. In either case, take those offline but also deal with them as soon as possible. In all instances, use the right tone of voice and display empathy and understanding if the customer feels they’ve been wronged or treated unfairly. It doesn’t matter who’s right or wrong. To connect with an upset customer, one must first let them know they’re understood before attempting to reach a satisfactory resolution.

Once a customer settles down and knows he/she is understood, that is the time to tap the brand’s knowledge base and explain things. If the company erred, a genuine apology and positive action to make things right would go a long way in helping retain the customer. Remember the Bain & Company study results?

With the proper attention, listening, and response, some irate or unhappy consumers can be turned into the most loyal customers. Although it may not happen in most cases, those converted will stand among a brand’s strongest advocates.

Ronn Torossian

Ronn Torossian is the founder and CEO of 5WPR and one of the most well-respected Public Relations professionals in the United States. Ronn is the author of "For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results with Game-Changing Public Relations."

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