If you are afraid of social media, you’ll find both a companion and a mentor in Dell.
In 2005, the Dell brand and its shares took a big hit when Jeff Jarvis, a tech blogger wrote about Dell’s poor customer’s service.
This blog post created a huge reputation crisis, social media was a megaphone for people like Jarvis who had issues with Dell products, staff, and service.
Brand haters quickly formed a digital alliance that forced Michael Dell up from his retirement to save the company he started.
I will be talking about customer’s services as an effective form of marketing and not warehouse for complaints and are you can use customer’s services in the age of social media and how Dell nailed it.
If you want to mentor social media customer’s services, Dell will teach you how to bounce from failure to fantastic.
So what exactly is social customer service?
I’m glad you asked.
“Social Customer Service is the act of providing customer support through social media channels. Many companies now use social media to augment their call-based customer support activities. These include addressing complaints, answering questions, providing guidance and even issuing refunds via social channels...”
Social media is all about leveraging online tools that promote sharing and conversations, which ultimately leads to engagement with current and future customers and influence in your target market.
The key to social media working is having a content marketing strategy that involves the distribution of valuable, relevant and compelling content that promotes the behavior you are looking for that will ultimately drive your business.
Social Media Hugs Customer Service
Why social media customer care is important in retaining loyal customers and positive brand awareness.
With all the noise and saturation of businesses and brands online vying for more clients and customers, there is one guaranteed thing that any smart digital marketer can do to stand above the noise to build and keep their network of buyers: social media customer care, or SMCC.
Before the advent of social media, unhappy customers had limited options for expressing discontent.
You had only the helpline and miserable looking suggestion box to write protest letters. Then you need to fast, pray and hope for a response.
If the company does nothing to resolve issues, you will rave, rant and complain to your friends then move on. Many businesses loved it.
They could control the narrative around their products and customer service keep unwanted stories around service failure hidden forever.
They could afford to turn a blind eye to rising existing customer frustrations and focus on the first time buyers of their products using huge advertising budgets.
Not anymore. Social media has changed all that.
Social media has given customers the power to amplify their frustrations, build communities around their anger and generate enough noise that will damage the reputation of any brand.
Today the internet is replete with stories of customers who took brands to the court of public opinion and won.
Social media has indeed put the customer before services. Not just in the arrangement of words but in practice of how customer services are practiced.
Digital media for customers’ services basically involves all activities and initiatives used by business to listen, empower and engage their target audience in order to meet both product quality and customer satisfaction.
Great customer service is the hallmark of services excellence.
Whether you believe it or not, your target audience is already forming online digital communities and what they do or refuse to do will have an impact on the perception of your business and the products and services you offer.
While most business and still battling with how best to approach social media, customers are taking it a notch higher.
Rather than calling the automated customer care channels, they are tweeting, pinging and chatting to share their opinions.
Businesses that have confined social media to marketing alone are losing an opportunity to build relationships with their customers because there is no denying the profound influence of social media on customer service.
The question now, how can your organization improve customer service with social media? Do you want to know let getting into it?
Ten Principles Of Social Customer Service
1. Denial Is Not a Working Strategy
So, the web designer convinced you to include a Facebook or Twitter link to the company website only for you to leave it dormant?
Having a link to social networking sites does not indicate presence activity does.
To a traditional marketer assigned to a profile page, any negative comment or complaint on social media is not good for business; they must be ignored or deleted.
But how do complaints or angry comments on a Facebook wall look like without response? They have a negative impact on brand perception.
However, an angry customer service personnel sees such as an opportunity to turn an angry customer into an ambassador.
Denying online comments is like denying the impact of digital conversation on your business.
2. Think Through Your Customer Service Goals
It is time to do a checklist of some important questions that will help you re-align your customer service objectives for social media.
. Do customers have a clear idea of the service they expect from you?
. Do you gather high-quality information about your customers and what they want on a regular basis?
. Can you be reached easily?
. Do you have competent and well trained staff?
. How fast do you respond to queries and requests?
. Have you made it easy for customers to complain and make suggestions about the quality of your services?
. Do you involve your customers in the development of products and services?
. How can I do all of these things better?
All these need to be in your checklist.
3. Select The Right Channels
Apart from understanding your buyer’s persona, it is important to know where to find your customers online. Take time out to listen.
What are they saying already? What are their implied expectations?
Your response to these questions will go a long way in helping your preparation, deciding the major channels you are going to focus on and whether your available resources for long term execution.
4. Select The Right Tools
Once you have identified how social media integrate into your business strategy, you need the right tools, not vice versa.
If you have not established your objective for going social, it is not always a smart move to randomly choose any tool.
If you are approaching social media haphazardly, it is easy to be thrown in different directions. Just as several platforms exist so do tools that simplify each process.
You need social listening tools to identify mentions of your brand, you need engagement tools to communicate with your target audience, you need analytics tools to track, measure and analyze outcome.
What tools will work best for your business? Will it integrate with your existing customer relation management (CRM) tools? What is your budget? Does your staff require additional training?
Some of the most common customer service applications include;
The leading cloud-based customer service software solution, Zendesk provides easy to use self-service tools, as well as a ticketing system.
It also allows integrations with Twitter, WordPress, and Salesforce.
Zendeck is a multi-channel help desk, communicating with customers the way they want to communicate.
Originally found in 2009 as assist, re-branded as Desk in 2010 and was acquired by Salesforce in 2011.
It simple customer service solution that allows companies to create one “universal inbox” to connect with their customers via social media like Twitter and Facebook, as well as customer support methods including phone, chat, and email.
. Parature for Facebook
Owned by Microsoft, parature’s cloud-based software integrates a dedicated, 24/7 customer services center into your business’s Facebook page.
This allows businesses to deploy efficient customer service solutions ranging from the self-service platform, knowledge base, ticket customer support system and chats which are also accessible through mobile.
5. Handshake Across Departments
If your marketing department is in charge of your social media channels, it is time to realize this goes beyond marketing.
Since more interactions between brands and people on social media are issue related, several brands are realizing this and are developing teams across several disciplines to handle integration into social media marketing, corporate communications, human resources and sales, product development and many more.
Customer service will need to have a bit of freedom to operate within the organization beyond directing customers and clients to another service phone number.
If you have the courage to group customer issues, you can have dedicated Twitter handles to manage your customer service support.
This ensures your marketing does not clash with your social media effort. Some examples of these include; @ComCastCares, @ATTCustomerCare, @BTCare, @ASOSHereToHelp, @GTBank help @Safaricom_Care @KenyaAirways, @KenyaPower.
Allowing customers’ service think like your marketing channel ensures you are turning customers into champions.
6. Who Speaks For The Brand?
Whatever technology can replace, it will eventually do; especially because of reduces cost and predictability of customers.
Tools will deliver service but only the right kind of people will deliver a service experience. Getting the right kind of person to manage your brand online is a big deal.
Who can forget the Omojuwa vs. Arik saga or the Facebook administration for Nescafe who couldn’t hold it together?
People interacting with brands online expect the brand to be friendly, unofficial yet respectable. That role is definitely not for an unsupervised intern.
The online brand managers, content managers and, online strategists must understand the character of the brand as well as have the tact, especially when they are dealing with a technology savvy target audience.
They must also be able to work in teams especially with automation tool; they must be able to delegate specific issues to the appropriate team member; they must ensure mentions from influential users or ensure that known detractors are sent straight to a senior member of the team.
All these are to ensure that the organization has more following, online and in real life.
7. Insights Measure and control
Consumers have very high expectations of brands on social media.
They expect a response to their inquiries in less than an hour, even if it is only an acknowledgment.
They expect brands to be courteous and responsive to their needs; your business needs to pay attention to these as well.
Of all the benefits of digital marketing and social media, this seems the most attractive and difficult.
Attractive because you can now measure the impact of your efforts with tweets, hashtag tracking, fans, followers, online/software reports, analytics.
These in hand, you can track how many people visit your sites as against newspapers ads and fliers which once printed, its reach cannot be estimated.
It is also easy to ask your online advocates to justify their costs.
It, therefore, presents an opportunity to measure your efforts and tweak them in other to find the best method and tools that interact with your audience in a profitable way.
8. Prepare For Crisis
Social media give brands the power to connect with their existing and potential customers. That’s good news.
The other side is that every customer is a potential global activist and you cannot afford to mess with the wrong ones.
Since social media is an emerging terrain, expect a few skirmishes, from mix-tweets to insults, and some will even try to pick fights.
So, be prepared. To save you a lot of time, money and image, it is essential to have a scenario mapping or crisis plan.
One important fear for brands is opening up their businesses to seemingly faceless people.
Rather than being incapacitated by fear, you can set up a process that helps migrate potential problems and transforms challenges into brand building opportunities.
Even if social media crisis doesn’t happen, mistakes are inevitable.
9. Listening is priceless
Just as listening is important for human interactions, listening is super priceless for brands.
If you’re using social media for your business, listening on social media allows you answer queries, spot potential problems and quickly identify opportunities; you need to listen to your consumers and respond quickly in other to be fully effective.
Listening for brands have cross departmental importance as every department becomes responsive and is able to engage their target market from an informed position.
10. Customer Service Excellence Is The New Marketing
Social media has given a megaphone to voice customer issues and inquiries in a way that captures management attention.
It has an impact on customer perception and hence influences your potential customers buying patterns.
Brands and businesses that are leveraging this are already reaping the benefits.
According to Lee Resource Inc, attracting new customers will cost your company five times more than keeping an existing customer.
Keeping existing Customers Experience Impact (CEI) Report explores the relationship between consumers and brands.
Based on a survey commissioned by right now (an Oracle company) and Harris Interactive the following were revealed;
. 86% of consumers will pay more for a better customer experience.
. 89% of consumers began doing business with a competitor following a poor customer’s experience.
. 79% percent of customers who shared complaints about poor customer experience online had their complaints ignored.
. 50% percent of consumers give a brand only one week to respond to a question before they stop doing business with them. On why customers remain committed to a brand, it was discovered that;
. 73% of consumers remain because of friendly employees or customers service representatives.
. 36% of consumers because of personalized experiences.
The question now what does social media mean for your business?
Social Media Customer Service Tools
Monitoring customer service activity on Facebook and Twitter (and other platforms like Instagram or Google+) is best accomplished with tools such as:
These types of social customer service tools offer the ability to listen to consumers across multiple platforms.
Accounts can be monitored by a single customer service representative or a team.
You’ll be able to add streams that show search results for phrases such as your brand name.
What’s more, it can help you respond to questions or issues, without your company being direct @ mention or being tagged.
Oftentimes customer service social media training is included with the price of an online tool or software. Take advantage of this!
Because social media never “closes”, tools can notify you with a text or on an app—even when your business is off hours.
The role of social media in customer service can play a big part in the success of your brand loyalty and advocacy.
With the right preparation and listening tool, using social media for customer service can take your digital community to the next level.
Be ready to use your social media platforms to support customers by including the six key elements provided here.
Let’s recap the essentials of your social media customer service strategy:
- Reply as quickly as possible on social media
- Know which social media posts to resolve in public or private
- Respond to all social media feedback, questions and comments
- Include a greeting and be transparent with names or initials
- Combat negativity with positivity on social media
- Monitor customer service through social media with a tool