If you’ve been wondering how to improve your customer service in today’s digital age, here’s an equation for your consideration: customer service plus social media equals SOCIAL CARE.
"Social care" is not a new concept, yet you may be asking: What is social care? Social care enlarges on the concept of customer service by including an active, robust social media presence. Social care provides consumer support through social media channels like Facebook and Twitter.
Social Care is Customer Care. Period.
Regularly monitoring your company's social media pages and interacting with your followers can increase your customer service activities from acceptable to exceptional. The better your social care, the more social traffic you can expect.
The success of your social care efforts will depend, as ever, on the quality of care you provide. Providing great social customer service must be
An amazing customer experience will convince clients to return, as well as refer your business to their friends, colleagues and family members. Word-of-mouth marketing is powerful, and excellent customer service is the way to get customers talking. One of your best assets is having satisfied customers who are willing to say good things about you and your company and their experience with you.
Using social media as a way of giving an opinion on companies, products or experiences has almost become second nature to us. In fact, many of our buying decisions are affected by what people say online. The perception of your business in the digital age is majorly influenced by social media mentions.
Everyone is Watching
It’s not a question of if your business needs to listen to your customers on social media. It’s a question of how you listen and how you respond. Customer comments, whether good or bad, can be seen by the digital world. And they can also see how you respond.
When dissatisfied consumers vent on social media, customers and prospects are watching. They evaluate your response to the complaint and how you treat the complaining customer. In the olden days before social media, consumers ranted about a poor customer service experience by telling family members, friends and co-workers. Now, thanks to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram, angry customers can broadcast their stories of terrible (real or perceived) customer service to an essentially unlimited audience.
The reality is that customer expectations have risen to the point where consumers are looking for businesses to create a buying experience that goes directly from their showroom to Facebook. Or the other way around, from Facebook to the showroom. It’s not enough for your business to simply have a social media presence; now you must work it.
We’ve assembled a few suggestions for the ways you can take advantage of the power of social media to provide your prospects and clients with the best possible “social care”.
How You Can Provide Social Care
1. Be active on the social media sites where your customers are.
The average person has at least seven social media accounts. If your customers use several social accounts, you should too. What you learn about where your customers spend their time might surprise you. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that Twitter or Facebook is the best fit for your audience just because you might spend the most time on them.
For most companies, Facebook and Twitter will be the primary focus for social care, but you may find that your customers also frequent Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram or other social sites.
If you don’t know the answer to where your customers are, you can ask them, using a one-question survey, sent via email.
2. Use software that monitors mentions of your business on the internet.
You need to know when people are talking about you so you can respond. Useful tools are out there that will alert you when you get mentioned anywhere on the web. Two free ones are Social Mention and Google Alerts. This article lists 15 tools that can keep track of any social media posts about you and/or your business.
3. Respond to every comment or mention.
A big social care mistake is to ignore social posts, comments and reviews. Your prospects are watching to see how you respond to comments, especially complaints. All comments should be acknowledged. This is one of the biggest social care best practices.
It’s simple: customers want to be heard! Not replying is the same as ignoring a customer’s voice mail asking for a call back. Just as you wouldn’t ignore a customer in your showroom, you shouldn’t leave a comment unanswered online.
4. Respond Quickly.
Not responding to a social media post is the #1 biggest social care mistake. Not responding quickly is a close second. Today’s consumers have become accustomed to instantaneous results, thanks to Google. The fast pace of social media creates expectations that are different from email, where a 24-hour response time is acceptable.
Facebook actually posts your response times on your business page. Here’s how they determine who gets the “Very Responsive” Badge:
5. Avoid canned responses.
Make your answers personal. Don’t just copy and paste messages. In general, all the princples of excellent customer service apply to social care. A great response will:
- Correctly identify the issue or problem
- Provide links to additional information
- Close the loop (even to a "thank you" comment or tweet)
6. Be proactive.
Don’t simply react to social comments from customers; create and publish your own posts. Not self-promotional posts, but good information that provide value for your customers. Think about content such as
- answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs)
- the ways customers are using your products
- problems you have solved for customers
- before-and-after case studies with lots of photos
7. Know when to take the discussion off-line.
As important as it is to listen and respond to your customers on social media, the reality is that not every contact over social media can be easily resolved, particularly if the issue is technical or when the customer has many issues.
Generally, a conversation should be "moved offline" when:
- there are many back and forth replies
- you need to write a longer reply than is appropriate on social media
- sensitive personal data is required, such as email addresses or phone numbers
If you take the customer interaction to the phone or email, mak sure the customer doesn’t feel like they are “getting passed around”, a common frustration. Simply telling your customer that they need to call or email for help isn’t going to cut it; it comes off as lacking empathy (an important customer service skill). Make the customer feel cared for by emphasizing that you’re not handing them off, but that you’re going to make things right.
After an issue is resolved offline, be sure to return to the social channel and thank the customer for reaching out.
Numbers Don't Lie
Statistics tell a story, and as a business owner, it's one that you want to hear.
- Eight in 10 customers say they'd switch to a competitor due to poor customer service (Business World Daily)
- 75% of consumers say social media has made it possible for them to interact with companies (Sprout Social)
- 91% of U.S. adults say they at least sometimes read online customer ratings or reviews before purchasing (Bright Local)
- 92% of customers will call you out on poor customer service (Sprout Social)
- 90% of consumers used the internet to find a local business (Bright Local)
- 71% of consumers are more likely to purchase based on social media referrals (HubSpot)
Have these numbers convinced you of the importance of an active social media presence?
Your customers have more power and influence than they ever have before, thanks to social media. By delivering prompt and valuable support on the social media platforms where your customers are active, you can build strong relationships with them, get referrals and grow your business.
Let’s recap the social care strategy:
- Reply as quickly as possible on social media
- Know which social media posts should be resolved in public or private
- Respond to all social media feedback, questions and comments
- Use a digital tool to monitor comments and mentions of your business on social media
By being part of the conversation in social media, you are giving customers a great way to reach out to you, while also being able to address their concerns quickly.
How customers perceive you on social media can have a big impact on the success of your business.