Most modern businesses already have Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram profiles. Using social media for brand promotion, marketing message broadcast, and company updates is pretty routine for most entrepreneurs and marketers. However, where most businesses are missing out, is using social media to deliver customer service.
Ragy Thomas, CEO of Sprinklr, a social relationship management system, famously remarked that businesses have experienced a shift from 'B economy' to 'C economy'. Whereas B economy concept focused on broadcasts, the C economy is about conversations. Social media networks, because of their appeal on a personal front, offer tremendous potential for businesses to converse with their customers.
An Overview of Traditional Customer Service
Conventionally, customers have phone, email, chat, and ticketing based options of availing customer service. All of these have inherent limitations that prevent even the most customer-focused entrepreneurs and businessmen from delivering delightful customer service. Finding the right telephone number, long wait times, lost email communications, frustratingly long chat sessions with little human touch – all these mean your customers are not likely to feel your brand’s personality. Social media, when leveraged as customer service portal, overcomes some significant limitations of conventional media, and hence gives entrepreneurs the opportunity to make customer service a differentiator.
The Core Rules of Social Media Customer Support
- Understand the meaning, intention, and expectation behind their questions, comments, and queries.
- Understand the context of brand mentions; in almost half the cases, audiences don't expect or desire the brand to start the conversation. So, you've got to develop the pulse to identify where to intervene.
- Engage in conversations when you’re confident you can deliver value.
- Always align your conversations to the ulterior aim of developing great customer relationships.
Irrefutable Reasons for Entrepreneurs to Focus on Social Media Customer Support
The Power of Immediacy
Customers expect immediate response and acknowledgement for their complaints and queries, and automated acknowledgements don’t inspire much trust anymore. With social media monitoring tools, you can get immediate notifications when a customer posts a problem related to your brand or business, giving you the opportunity to put an appeasing message quickly.
One customer complaint addressed well on social media transforms a potential negative brand message into a positive message. The flip side – you need be ultra responsive, and the best way to achieve this is to have a team of dedicated social media support personnel with the skill to identify potential wins and positive stories to help create the right messages for your brand’s customer focus.
How to Manage Customer Expectations of Immediate Response?
An Edison Research study documented that 42% customers who contacted a brand through social media pages expected a response within an hour. Scary? Probably not, because another research carried out by NM Incite documents that quick responses, even if ineffective, double the likelihood of a consumer recommending your brand.
With tools and technologies to monitor your social media profiles for brand mentions, you can easily deliver immediate responses. Some of these tools are – Social Mention, Talkwalker, and Mention. SparkCentral and Sprout Social are more sophisticated tools that help your customer support teams handle social media with seamless ease. With new technologies like cloud and big data its even becoming easier and more accurate now.
Deliver Personalized and Human-ified Messages
Face it, customers don’t want to be fed one-toned clichéd and standard replies to their queries and concerns anymore. Social media platforms are arenas where customers are used to engaging in purely personalized communications. When you respond to a customer’s post on a social media platform, that’s the equivalent of your brand engaging in a one-to-one conversation with the customer. Nothing gives a more human face to your business. Think of it this way; you get the best of both worlds, retaining your position and presence as a corporate brand, yet communicating at a very personal level with a consumer.
More Social Media Brand Mentions Than Ever
Every customer support focused interaction you engage in on social media platforms is an opportunity for you to make brand and product mentions. Plus, even if a customer highlights your business in the form of a complaint post (which you should try to transform into a positive experience), that’s a brand mention for you. You get the opportunity to show your brand’s capabilities and customer support centricity in this manner. You can post links to help pages on your brand website, can connect customers to your FAQs and product demo pages, and once the customer is satisfied, invite him to visit product pages, or better still, leave a positive testimonial. Every time you handle questions and answers, there’s potential for brand mentions, to the extent that your customer’s entire social media profile followers will see, read, and experience your brand communications.
How to Evaluate, Monitor, and Improve Your Business’ Social Media Customer Support?
Like every customer service endeavor, your social media customer support efforts also need to undergo iterations of continual improvement. For this, the basic plan, monitor, check, act cycles need to be operationalized. Three core KPIs to capture are:
- Number of Messages: How many messages did you post over a month, or quarter? The answer gives you insight into the number of support people you need in your social media management team. Also, this helps you get a pulse of the kind of conversations happening around your brand.
- Resolution Rate: Over time, your resolution rate for social media customer queries and complaints must be more than the internal benchmarks you set, because responsiveness delivers short term trust, and resolutions deliver long term trust to customers.
- Response Times: Speed of communication is a critical success factor in social media customer support. The first communication needs to be the swiftest, because that’s what communicates your alertness and customer focus. Measure the average responsive times over a month, and set the right standards based on your findings.
With so much to gain in terms of customer relationships, social media is much more than what it was even five years back. No wonders, forward thinking entrepreneurs realize the importance of getting onboard this wave of social media customer support.