The presence of brands on social media gives their customers a new, and very effective medium for reaching out and speaking directly with businesses. Consumers can now share both their appreciation and their grievances regarding any business, whether they are present on social media or not. This phenomenon has led to businesses having to manage some of their customer service directly on social media. Whether people have something good or bad to say about a brand or their products or services, the biggest issue for brands is that anyone can see these complaints.
While it’s great for a business when anyone can see when a customer is satisfied and he or she shares that on social media, in many cases people take to social media to air their complaints – and when anyone can see these complaints, it’s definitely not the best publicity.
Many businesses are already using social media for managing customer service – but most are either not doing it enough, or simply not doing it right. A study from Socialbakers, shown by Business Insider, reveals just how terrible some brands’ customer service performance is on Twitter:
As you can see, not only do brands reply to shockingly low numbers of enquiries, but they also take a really long time when answering. And the study shows that they aren’t really getting much better over time. While the percentage of questions answered is very slowly increasing, brands are taking longer to answer them. Which wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t Twitter, where 6.6 hours is basically the equivalent of several days in real life – a tweet ‘dies’ in seconds, having a very short lifespan.
Here are a few quick tips to help you manage your customer service effectively on social media:
1. Respond to all enquiries, complaints, praises, etc.
What many brands don’t seem to understand is that the complaints and enquiries they receive on social media can be seen by a whole world, and seeing them unanswered, leads people to believe that the business has awful customer service or is even hiding something by avoiding questions. It’s important to reply to all of the comments received, no matter if they are complaints or compliments – but even more so in the case of complaints. While people might be disappointed by what you are saying, it’s better this way than for them to think you are avoiding admitting your problems or simply don’t have the time for your consumers. In the end, by responding to everyone on social media, you are showing your audience that you are listening to them and care about their opinions – and that can go a long way.
2. Be quick!
As we’ve seen earlier, most brands take a really long time to reply to enquiries on Twitter, and that probably happens on most other social networks as well. While on Facebook a few hours wait might be acceptable, on Twitter 6 hours is a really long time. Most people expect almost instantaneous responses on social media, and especially so on Twitter. The only way to make sure you do that is to have at least a person ‘on call’, ready to reply to all enquiries and comments.
When you’re not quick enough on social media, you can also expect that your competition might reply for you. When someone is asking for your help on social media, another similar business can just swoop in when you’re not replying and reply for you – effectively stealing a customer or a potential customer from you. If you take too long to answer and a customer really needs help, he or she might go himself to another company to ask them the question.
3. Always be polite and nice to everyone on social media
You will probably sometimes get at least a few Internet bullies that will drive you crazy, but it’s important to keep your head straight in these times. Whatever they say and no matter how rude they are, you have to always be nice and polite when replying.
4. Train your staff before they start using social media
If you don’t have a specialist or a dedicated person to do your social media, but rather your other staff members do it, make sure to at least train them all beforehand. Get someone to come and show them how to deal with customer service on social media, in order to avoid making any mistakes and make sure your staff knows how to react in each situation.
Also try to not let any potential disgruntled employees at the helm – StubHub for example had to learn this the tough way:
5. Point your faults as soon as you discover them – before your customers do
If your business or products experience any problems, make sure you say something on social media as soon as you find out – don’t wait for your customers to start telling you. Explain that you know what the problem is and tell them when it is estimated to be fixed. This way you will get less complaints and questions since you’ve pointed out the problem and when it would be solved.
Have you ever used social media for customer service? Do you have any examples of dreadful or, why not, exceptional customer service on social media?
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