Time for a guest post by Maher Abiad. He is an expert when it comes to social media and the customer relationship that follows. If you want to read about him more, I urge you to go to his site linked below.
This is his guest post and it is filled with valuable content – enjoy.
Think of your last relationship (or your friend’s), and how it ended. Think of the little minor issues that slowly started to build up, and then how they came crashing down all at once, making you or your partner call it quits.
These little issues come in different forms—usually neglecting you, not talking with you like they used to, making everything about themselves, etc. And sooner or later, you reach your point, and you want out.
Now imagine you are a business. What kind of reaction do you think your users will have when you fail to engage in conversation with them, inquire about their needs, and shove a product in their faces and expect them to buy it?
That’s right. They’ll eventually want out.
So, what do you do to keep your customers from breaking up with you? More specifically, how can you leverage social media to conduct better customer service, get customer feedback, and cultivate relationships with your users?
Let’s start with why you should even consider using social media to optimize your customer service in the first place.
1. Customer Service Via Phone is So 2007
More and more companies are starting to realize the value of offering responses in real-time, and not making customers wait for service via the phone.
While it may be everyone’s dream to listen to a robotic voice say “please stay on the line… we will be with you shortly”, social media is now allowing us to offer quicker response times and fuller response rates. By answering questions via Twitter and Facebook, and having accounts dedicated to customer service specifically, the age-old wait line on the phone is eliminated.
2. Being Where the Customers Are
These days, more and more people are on social media. So why not be where the customers are, and investigate directly what they might be saying about you?
Being on social media and tracking what your company sentiment is via your direct and indirect mentions allows you to gain insight into customer opinions about you. This would be otherwise hard to track without sending out surveys or performing some type of outreach.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
What are the things that you can do in order to leverage social media as a customer service management tool?
1. Shoot for High Response Rates
This is a simple one. If your customers are trying to get in touch with you, answer them.
There’s an astonishing number of client posts to businesses that go unanswered; you want to strive to be like Zappos, who manages a 100% response rate.
The one thing that says bad customer like nothing else is silence. Answering inquiries via social media allows you to track customer questions in a way that makes it easier to respond to them faster and more efficiently.
This way, you never leave a customer thinking, “they never talk to me anymore… maybe our relationship is running its course.”
2. Listen to What Customers Have To Say
You know that inner stalker that you have? (We all have one; don’t try to lie to yourself). Time to let them out of the closet to run wild.
If your customers are praising you (or ranting about you), chances are they are telling it to the world via social media. You will either know about it because they will directly mention you, or you will have to investigate if they have mentioned you indirectly.
Reading these comments and understanding them will give you key insights into customer pain points and complaints they are having, or let you know what you are doing well so you can improve it. The beauty of all this is that you can source customer feedback without having to send out a survey at all.
3. Track Sentiment
Sentiment is the attitude or emotion driving a mention or conversation on social media. Measuring sentiment will enable you to understand better how to serve your customers.
When you investigate sentiment, you gain insight into how people feel about you online. They might be talking about you or your product on social media—but where they happy about it? Or were they angry or upset? In what areas are your customers being neglected, and what can you do to resolve it?
Measuring sentiment clues you into where your overall brand stands, and the tone of the social conversations concerning you.
4. Dedicate a Profile to Customer Service
Divide your social profiles up so that your promotional account and your customer service account are separate. By dedicating a social profile to customer service, people know exactly they should go to ask questions and communicate with you. It will allow you to better manage inquiries so you can achieve a faster response time and an overall better response rate.
You can also specify your customer support hours on this profile, so people can know when to expect a response from you. They won’t be disappointed when they’re met by silence on the other end if they contact in outside of your hours.
5. Follow the Customer-to-Customer Relationships
These days, business models are slowly growing to accommodate customer-to-customer (C2C) relationships. We are seeing a greater shift from B2C communication towards conversations started within user communities.
This means that more than ever, customers are turning to their peers in the community for answers and conversation—sometimes before they turn to a company itself.
It’s important to realize this because we are automatically disadvantaged when one person has a bad experience—word spreads. At the same time, we can benefit from designing great experiences for one customer, because that one experience goes a long way via word of mouth.
We must also realize that we can leverage C2C relationships by nurturing communities and helping them grow. In the long run, it is much easier to push forward promotion and brand development when you have a united community behind you.
6. Satisfy Our Inner Need for Attention
Let’s face it: somewhere deep down there, there is a part of us that is secretly an attention-hungry egocentric. As customers, we want to be loved we wanted to be nurtured (cue dramatic scene of Nicolas Cage having an emotional break down).
The same way your significant other needs to feel loved and appreciated by you, your consumers need to feel that you actually care about them.
So, send a random tweet their way, even if they didn’t directly contact you. Send birthday messages or congratulations where you can—little gestures mean a lot in the B2C world. It shows that you appreciate your customers and that they are more than just an entry in your income sheet.
You know what to do. If you’re tired of finding yourself in an Olive Garden while your customer lists all the reasons that they want to leave you, it’s time to start using social media to pay better attention to them. So start tweeting, or pinning, or whatever you do best—and let’s get social!