Customer Service on Social Media

One of the main advantages of social networking is being where your customers are, but what use is that if you don’t listen and respond to them?

As a brand, it’s important to have a reciprocal relationship with your followers on social media. Since 2013, the number of customers expecting a response on social media has doubled (according to research by Sprout Social), yet seven out of eight messages to companies go unanswered.

The best social media marketing strategies are not just about attracting new customers, but building relationships with the ones you already have.

Why is it important?

Customer service on social media is growing increasingly popular among consumers as it straddles the line between the convenience of email and immediacy of the phone call.

According to Nielsen’s 2012 Social Media Report, one third of users prefer ‘social care’ to the phone.

It’s important to make sure you display the availability of your customer service on social media in a clearly visible place to ensure consumers don’t feel neglected when contacting you outside your business hours.

Availability

According to research by Lithium technologies, 53% of consumers expect a reply within 60 minutes of posting a question on social media, with this figure rising to 72% when making a complaint.

It’s also worth noting that most Facebook pages tend to display your average response time, which could work in your favour if you keep on top of your customer service responsibilities. Alternatively, it could reflect badly if you don’t.

Availability and response time proved vital for Waterstones when a customer got trapped inside one of their branches in London. He resorted to social media in his quest for freedom, tweeting: “Hi @Waterstones I’ve been locked inside of your Trafalgar Square store for 2 hours now. Please let me out.”

The tweet that freed the man who found himself trapped in Waterstones.

This tweet went viral, eventually conjuring up over 16,000 retweets and 12,000 likes. Fortunately, someone was available on the Waterstones Twitter account and responded 80 minutes later, therefore avoiding what could have been a PR nightmare.

Strength in numbers

Most customers expect one social media account – whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, or any other channel – to resolve any issues they’re experiencing with your services. The varied nature of these interactions (they can be anything from complaints to questions about a particular product or policy) make it difficult for one marketer or employee to answer them effectively.

This is not a problem with a cross-functional social media team made up of people from various departments. This way, you are able to handle each and every type of query that is posted to you. However, when forming a team, it’s essential you have clear brand guidelines in terms of tone, standards and response time in order to maintain consistency.

When utilising a team of people to deal with customer enquiries on social media, it’s good practice to introduce the person on-duty by name as this gives them a ‘face’ and more personal façade.

The transparency of social media

Dealing with (and solving) all customer-service-related queries is crucial as these interactions are in the public eye, thus open for viewing to any existing and potential consumers.

Conversocial’s study revealed that 95.6% of consumers are affected by other customer comments on a brand’s social pages, so failing to visibly provide excellent customer service could have a detrimental effect on business.

On the flip side, if you are able to solve a customer’s issue in a quick, efficient and effective manner, this will reflect well on your brand image.

Search for your brand

Don’t just wait for consumers to directly interact with you; search for your brand to see what people are saying about you on social media. This way, you can appear to exceed expectations by solving any problems consumers might be complaining about, as well as quashing any doubts people may have about your company.

You should also retweet glowing reviews that portray your company in a shining light as this not only promotes your business, but also shows that you listen to your loyal customers.

Know when to take it offline

Knowing when to take your interactions with consumers offline is a key skill in customer service.

If, for example, your back-and-forth communications are clogging up your news feed, it’s a good idea to encourage the consumer to continue the conversation via the phone, email, or private messaging.

Taking the conversation offline is also important if you require any personal or private information from them, like their bank details, email address, phone number, and so on.

Do the unexpected

If you really want to present yourself as ‘going the extra mile’, you could follow in the footsteps of some of the following brands, who impressed by exceeding expectations.

Samsung
Canadian Shane Bennett posted the following on Samsung’s Facebook page in a desperate attempted to secure a free Galaxy S3:

Shane Bennett's request for a free Samsung phone.

Samsung unfortunately turned Shane down, but thanked him with their own drawing of a kangaroo riding a unicycle. However, after the interaction went viral, Samsung not only sent him the phone he originally asked for, but customised it with his initial dragon masterpiece.

Samsung's gift, customised with the customer's dragon doodle.

Sainsbury’s

Sainsbury’s proved you don’t always have to take yourself too seriously when dealing with customers on social media with this particular exchange.

Sainsbury's comical fish pun exchange with consumer.

This continued for several more tweets and is a great example of having a little fun with your social media and showing some personality.

More and more brands are adopting this personable tone online; Paddy Power, for example, have gotten some great coverage and plaudits for it.

Argos

Argos, similar to the likes of Nike and Xbox, have a separate Twitter account for customer service. This shows great commitment to helping your customers and increases efficiency when it comes to your marketing strategy.

Back in 2014, a particular interaction between Argos Helpers and a customer called Immy ‘BADMAN’ Bugti went viral.

Argos Helpers's cheeky response to a customer service query.

Once again, displaying a sense of humour proved to be a great tactic.

My Starbucks Idea

Starbucks went all out to prove that they listen to – and care about – their customers when creating ‘My Starbucks Idea’ in 2008. This is a website and Twitter account which they describe as a place ‘to share, vote and discuss ideas and see them in action.’

Its purpose is to encourage customers to propose suggestions that will help Starbucks to improve their products and/or services in line with the wants and needs of those that invest in them.

 

Oliver Wilkinson
Marketing Exec
Knapton Wright Ltd.

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