Social media has made it much easier for businesses to market their products and services to their target audiences, but you have to remember that the platform is a two-way street. Customers get to express their opinions and issues to businesses directly and instantly, whether they’re positive or negative, and the whole world can bear witness and participate in a matter of seconds.
As such, you have to be able to properly respond to those concerns through the same channels to ensure your customers’ satisfaction and to develop as well as maintain a good public image for your brand. Apply the following tips for a successful customer service integration to your social media strategy.
Don’t remove complaints
When you see your business’ Facebook page littered with complaints, you should fight the urge to sweep all of the negative attention under the rug and delete every single negative comment. You not only run the risk of permanently losing the customer that way, you can also feed the fire of frustration that leads to customers spreading their bad experiences to their own networks.
You need to tackle the problems head on by asking for clarifications and providing solutions. Instead of worrying about the bad press you’re getting, look at the situation as an opportunity to transform upset customers bent on switching brands into loyal brand advocates. Keeping the complaints shows credibility. Just remember to provide solutions.
Complaints can get you as riled up just as the customer expressing his/her dissatisfaction, especially if they’ve reached a particular level of hostility. However, you need to remember that what you say and do will reflect upon your company’s reputation. Lashing out at customers will only make matters worse, as they get further alienated from your business and your outburst can very well be recorded and broadcast throughout cyberspace.
Keep your cool, and engage such complaints with a professional attitude. Ask questions in a polite manner to get to the real issue, which has no doubt been clouded by anger.
Be quick to respond
One major reason why people use social media to contact businesses about their concerns is that it’s fast and convenient. That’s why a majority of Twitter users across the globe expect a response from their tweet within 2 hours, and why 51% of Facebook users expect a response within the day, according to Oracle.
Meeting these expectations can only be done if you have a dedicated social media manager or team that handles customer service 24/7. Have them regularly monitor social media sites for brand mentions to keep tabs of issues. Set up strategies that can directly answer common complaints so that you respond quickly and effectively.
Keep customers updated
It’s not enough that you just reply to your customers’ issues in a timely manner. You also need to give them important updates to show that you’re actually working on solving their problems, and to put their minds at ease. You can develop a rapport with the customers this way, to slowly but surely get on their good side again.
If you discover a problem with your product/service that you think will affect more customers, inform them through your social media accounts about the changes that you’re making. They will have a better experience with the product/service and start to trust you as a business that listens to consumers.
Engage in regular feedback sessions
Customer service isn’t always a reactive process. Take the initiative to interact with your customers on social media to know what they like and don’t like about your business. Ask them questions regarding the quality of your products, the speed of service, what improvements they’d like to see, etc.
Schedule it once or twice a month so that you are always on the loop as to how your customers perceive your business. This will help you to detect and take care of issues before they get out of hand
Redirect special complaints
While social media as a platform is great for replying quickly to common customer service issues, it’s not always the most appropriate one for every concern. You might need to get their real names, contact details and other such sensitive information that they might not be comfortable with sharing publicly.
Tell them that you will be addressing their problems through a more secure channel. You might also want to control volatile situations by continuing the conversation through a more private platform, like email or through a phone call.
Word of mouth spreads much faster on social media, and customers are more likely to share bad customer service experiences than good ones. Make customer service an important part of your social media strategy to take control of your brand’s reputation online, while developing strong relationships with consumers.
Image credit: CC by Luigi Cianfarano