It’s hard to disagree with the notion that excellent customer service will improve both your reputation and your sale figures. Generally the vast majority of people are quick to report, tarnish or post a negative comment when they experience a dis-pleasurable service with your brand or your products.
For marketeers the balancing act of social media can make or break a campaign, there is no denying social media has opened up an array of new avenues and made brands of all sizes more accessible than ever before. However they have also given the consumer a powerful platform to praise, vent or stain your reputation instantly.
Just like in the “real world” brands have the responsibility to provide exceptional and timely customer service on-line, in a recent report released by Hubshout it was stated that 53% of customers who engaged with a brand on twitter expected a response “within one hour or less”.
For multi-national companies this figure is surely manageable with the large resources they have available to them, however for small businesses this could be a major black mark against their name which could result in the beginnings of a public relations disaster (albeit on a small scale).
This opinion is supported by 38% of people who reported having negative sentiments towards a brand who didn’t give them a timely response to their customer service issue on social media. Since the emergence of social networking, it can be stated that most people go to social media BEFORE they decide to call as this is the easiest thing for THEM (as a customer) to do.
At weekends when the office is closed it’s even more important to keep an eye on your social media accounts because 57% of customers think that a brand’s customer service response time should be the same on the weekdays and weekends, which ultimately leaves small businesses open to criticism.
It’s important to remember that for the majority of consumers their peak on-line shopping periods are:-
Monday to Friday: 6:30 – 10:30pm
Saturday and Sunday
As you can see this gives a lot of businesses a major problem because customers could potentially be more active when your CLOSED than when you’re open.
So what can you do?
Learn To Win With After-Sales Support
Even though social marketing and media platforms are heavily driving sales, a lot of businesses are not correctly managing their customer service issues affectively. It’s important to remember that many people are using social media to learn about new brands, new products and about your reputation before they part with their hard earned cash. An unresolved customer service issue could be a terrible representation of your brand, it looks unprofessional, lazy and ultimately you WILL lose sales.
It can be a great idea to actually use a negative issue to your advantage and make your company stand out from any competitors, think of it this way, would you rather spend your money with a brand which ignores you? Or with a company who may instantly replace a part, offer a discount or arrange a repair. Sometimes it doesn’t matter if a product has broken, customers will gain more trust in knowing there’s a ‘safety net’ should a problem arise and after-sales support is available.
It can be hard for businesses to evaluate their current positioning and performance on social media networks purely because they operate in different industries and they’ll be at different stages on their social media journey. In general here are four points which every company should be completing at a high level.
1) Listen – When a customer complains you need to listen and read exactly what they’ve wrote (even if you think their comments are unfounded). It can be extremely tempting to send back a quick reply but this may actually DAMAGE your image even further, simply sit back and consider exactly what’s been said.
2) Engage – When you’ve re-gained your composure begin to type a message back, some companies may have a standard message such as:
“Hello XXXX, thank you for your comment, please can you email email@example.com and a member of our team will be able to assist you”
At this stage it’s important to remain as professional as possible even if a customer is extremely difficult or rude, remember you can’t always please everybody so adjust your response and make the best possible attempt to resolve the situation quickly and effectively.
3) Performance – If your company is receiving a large amount of interactions via Social Media networks I always recommend a ‘monthly performance’ meeting to discuss both social media complaints and compliments.
It’s wise to never assume your ‘doing all you can’ because nine times out of ten there’s always room for improvement. It can be interesting to view the success rates from complaints on social networks to overall satisfied customers, in other words how many customers are you converting from angry clients to happy? Remember an angry customer is far more likely to tell their friends, family and associates than a happy customer!
Here’s some quick points you may want to answer and evaluate upon:
Response Time – How quickly did we answer a customers post?
Engagement – How many replies did an average complaint have and how many replies did an average compliment have? For example, did a compliant have 5 responses because we didn’t answer the original issue and a compliment had one response whereby we simply said ‘thank you’.
Complaint Volume – Are we experiencing one type of complaints? Is it a faulty part on a certain product? or is there no pattern at all?
Resolution – How often did we solve the problem?
Defection – Has there been a rate of sales dropping off or clients leaving us for a competitor? For example, if somebody complains in Blackpool do we experience a slow down in sales in that area? Is there a direct link or not?
Understanding The ‘Silent Customer’
In an ideal world all of our customers will respond and engage with companies on their official social media networks, however this doesn’t happen all of the time. For example some companies are pro-active in finding issues rather than issues finding them, you can do this by simply searching for different phrases your customers may use, here’s some quick examples:
Your Company Name + #FAIL
Your Company Name + Product Name
Your Company Name + Help
Your Company Name + Problem
Your Company Name + How Can I
and so on……
It can show great initiative and fantastic customer service to respond to tweets, posts and other comments without the customer actually instigating the first point of contact. Large companies in particular have ‘customer service representatives’ searching through large forums and messaging boards in the exact same way.
Overtime you’ll quickly see a pattern emerging, trends and where exactly your main core of customers go to complain and praise. From here you can attempt to build trust and confidence in your brand and its products, this is arguably one of the most important goals any business should strive to achieve even if it takes longer than you may have hoped for.
It’s important to remember that giving excellent customer service isn’t just your ‘duty’ it’s a service which should be conducted in a professional manner, on the whole great service can equal great marketing. Use this opportunity as the perfect driving force to excel and differentiate yourself from competitors, at the end of the day all customers remember great customer service and bad customer service, so which side are you on?