Today probably every business is sufficiently aware of the importance of social media for customer service. Report by Parature shows us that 33% of consumers confirm they have used social media to ask a customer service question at least once and 18% use social media as a customer service channel on regular basis.
Just these facts alone are enough for companies to start giving basic attention to the quality of their social customer care.
However, other stats showing how big an impact those small number of customers reaching out via social media (compared to other, traditional customer service channels) have on the brand’s image, reputation and in the end, sales volume, become even stronger motivation to put in time and effort into the development of social customer care.
For example, the same Multichannel Customer Service Report by Parature states that 38% have used social media to complain about a brand’s customer service and 50%! – to praise a brand’s customer service. These are big figures. Moreover, 50% of customers acknowledge having a more favorable view of a brand that responds on social media.
Considering these numbers it would be difficult to understate the importance of delivering good customer service via social media on a company’s bottom line. Where to focus your effort and what are the most important ingredients of successful social customer care, read on below.
1. Treat social media as important as the rest of the customer service channels
It’s not enough for businesses to just maintain their social media presence. Customers expect high level of support irrespective of whether the channel is Twitter, Facebook or a phone call. According to The State of Social Customer Service Infographic by Conversocial 30% of customers expect a “first contact” resolution from the social team.
At the same time, 26% of companies admit that their staff don’t take social seriously as a customer service tool. Perhaps, this makes sense, because only 18% of consumers are taking their customer support requests to social media. Still, in terms of wider impact on business, publicity and brand reputation social care has in many ways bigger weight than the rest of the channels.
Social care requires as much time, attention and professionalism as any traditional customer support channel. Make sure that qualified customer service agents are responding to social requests. Ensure that they have the necessary monitoring software with good notification systems which enable them to see and respond to requests quickly.
Publish the information to your customers as to the hours they can reach you and the time frame during which they can expect a response from you. If you are a small business and cannot afford 24/7 support, it is perfectly fine to take more than 30 minutes to respond to a social media request if you set the customer’s expectation right. It is not necessary to drain your resources just to be in the trend. Every company has its own course and it is important to measure and distribute your resources effectively while keeping an eye on the customers’ reactions to it.
The bottom line, however, is to treat social media with equal importance to the rest of the support channels. This is something that every business needs to educate itself and its employees if you are aiming for success in customer care.
2. Strengthen your “traditional” customer service channels
Make sure your customer service on the whole is reliable and trustworthy, so that customers trust that you will hear their voice. It will lead to less complaints on social media.
A complaint through social media is in most cases a cry out of a customer who wants to be heard. Unsurprisingly, 74% most customers believe that if they take to social media to criticize a brand, this leads to better customer service. For them reaching out with a complaint through social media is less about the problem, it is more of a desperate effort to draw your attention. If you give attention to them, they will be ready to discuss and solve their problem with you without involving publicity. So just make sure that all of your customers have this opportunity to speak with you and be heard and you will see they will not be seeking your attention publicly.
This kind of care involves responding to customer queries timely and genuinely trying to help them via more traditional channels which your clients use the most. If this foundation is solid, then handling social media care will be much easier. The number of complaints will be going down and all that will be left for you is to accept appreciation and gratitude for your service. Doesn’t that sound good?
3. Be proactive
Being proactive in social media involves a few things.
Number one is the speed of response. 82% of consumers say the number one factor that leads to a great customer service experience is having their issues resolved quickly. If you want to see your social customer care a success, you need to respond quickly, as much as possible for your company.
Statistically, 40 percent of customers complaining on social media expect a response within an hour, and 32 percent expect a response within 30 minutes. If you can’t match this expectation, proactively set the customer expectation and make sure to follow it yourself. This way, you will not end up frustrating your customers even if your response speed is way below the industry standard.
A second aspect of being proactive to directly reach out to complainers and try move the discussion out of the public venue. You can suggest to the customer to escalate the issue to another channel, such as voice or chat where their complain can be discussed and satisfied. After a successful resolution, you can ask the customer to remove their online complaint or leave a positive comment about their problem having been solved.
From the often required need for escalation rises a third aspect of being proactive in social care, which is profound integration with other customer channels.
While customers may prefer social media for convenience, successfully resolving an issue will most likely require a phone call. Statistically, approximately 35% of customer inquiries that originate through other channels eventually escalate to voice.
Customer expectation for the social team to be integrated with other channels is also very high – 43%.
So there are indeed enough reasons to take care of this aspect and make sure your agents are set up technically to enable escalation to voice or another channel at any time, as it becomes necessary.
Sounds like there is a lot of work integrating social into your customer service system and making it an equal player, in terms of professionalism and efficiency. Many will be set back by the complexity and the seemingly low customer service traffic originating from social media. However, there is a very encouraging number given by Ambassador in their Social Customer Service Infographic: 70% of those helped via social customer service return as a customer in the future. That’s a good incentive to work for. What do you think?
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Thank you for sharing the informative article.
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It is a good article. Thanks.
Thank you! Glad you enjoyed it.
I have to agree that it is imperative that businesses’ traditional customer service, calling in for help, be good. If I can’t get good customer service from a company I probably won’t bother following or checking on them on social media. In fact I’ll probably post angry remarks about them. So, businesses should be able to effectively manage phone calls, and if possible have after hours help available. T
Thank you for sharing your opinion, Ian.
@Maria, thanks for a great summary. I have found that solving customer problems in public is usually better than “moving them offline” once you diligence and organize. Organizing gives the team confidence, and solving problems in public has massive benefits beyond solving the immediate problem quickly. Of course, not all businesses or issues benefit from public dialog but many do!
Again, depending on the firm and industry, those that don’t go social will face much higher churn since social sets the bar now.
Thank you for sharing your experience, Christopher. I think it’s very daring to move all communication to public. You are one of those who move ahead of time. Big respect to you for that! I do agree with you that it has so much more benefits than offline communication. At the same time, it requires a lot of effort and a very strong culture, organization as you said it, and responsibility of each member of the team. Not all companies are ready for it yet, but it’s good we have leaders like you.
thank you for sharing it with us…people need to know about it!!!!
Thank you for your feedback!
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