Many businesses are joining the social sphere on daily basis, some with clear objectives and plans and others are just doing it because “they have to”. Few years ago, I used to say if you’re not ready for social media it’s much better for you (as a brand) to stay out of the game, but nowadays it’s a bit different. You HAVE to be on social media and readiness is just out of question; you won’t be able to survive if you weren’t ready.
Being on social media is a corporate level effort and strategy, as it includes so many different parties and directions under its umbrella; customer care, marketing, research, product development and much more. Customer care being the most common use by brands or at least responding to their communities’ inquiries and questions.
Working for few years in a customer service position, specifically a 24/7 call center for a telecom operator, gave me a lot of insights about customer service, how it is done, how other parties perceive the brand and what do they expect in return. The first challenge that any brand faces when it tries to apply their customer service knowledge on their social media platforms is that they use the exact same standards and guidelines they have for all traditional customer service channels, forgetting how important it is to personalize the conversation on social media and how it should be relevant and exceeding the customer’s expectations.
The question is: What could brands do to provide their customers with an amazing social customer service?
On social media people are expecting to talk to humans and the last thing they want is to receive a reply that they have read many times on your channels. Make sure to personalize your responses as much as possible and even relate to previous experiences or incidents with this specific user.
Go the extra mile
You will definitely need to go the extra mile when dealing with customers, giving them 100% is just what any other brand would do and is what they expect you to do. They actually pay you to do the 100%. Going the extra mile will help you increase your beloved customers’ loyalty and satisfaction and since you’re in a customer service industry; you can’t just ignore how important pleasing customers is to your business.
Surprise your audience
Who doesn’t enjoy surprises? What do you think a positive surprise would do to your customers’ perception about your service and about you as a brand in general? Being on social media gives you some insights that are very hard to get from other channels.
Assume one of your social media advocates (who are used to get super special service) has visited any of your shops or showrooms. There are few scenarios here but the main two are that either your staff will be informed beforehand about your brand advocates or they are not. Now the real surprise is: “Sir, you’re getting 20% discount on your bill. You are one of our advocates on Twitter and we appreciate it :)”. Most probably you are thinking “how” can I get my management’s approval on discounts for my social media advocates?” It’s easy, just assume the discount rate you are providing as an investment and measure its ROI. Measure how many tweets, updates, photos and any activity this user has shared just because of this little discount. Of course, this is just one little example of how you can surprise your users, it’s up to you on how crazy and creative you would go with this.
Follow up and deliver
It’s so normal not to have a clear answer at the time when you receive a questions or concerns from your customers, but it’s very important to acknowledge those questions just to show them that you care and you’re there listening to what they say. Some issues could take an organization few days or maybe weeks to solve, what would you do then? Yes, you will have to keep following up with the customer and make sure to be very clear from the beginning that this specific issue might take some time and would be great if you can explain to them why it’s taking much time. Dealing with internal departments is sometimes challenging and deadlines are not always the best thing to share with your customers, so make sure to be very careful when committing to a deadline. At the end of the day, if an issue took ages to solve, it’s very important that you make sure that all issues you’re receiving are being tackled and solved as this is what your customers are expecting.
We all agree that some issues might take some time to solve or to be taken care of, but just to stress on a point I mentioned above that you need to make sure to acknowledge all of your customers’ questions and inquiries in a super fast manner. Social media doesn’t have weekends or off working hours, a customer with a problem at 4 am is a customer with a problem at the end of the day and you never know what are the possibilities of this specific case to evolve into a crisis and harm the brand in a way no one wanted or ever thought of.
It’s very important that you seed the culture of serving customers within The Customer Care Team. They all should be driven and motivated by the customers’ satisfaction. What social customer service techniques have you been doing for your brand lately? What have worked and what have failed? I would really like to hear your thoughts as this topic is really broad and requires a lot of trial and error until you reach the best formula.