Customer service is a crucial part of business. How you treat your customers determines everything about the business from repeat customers to branding to recommendations and new sales.
Even more so, companies need to treat their customers’ right in today’s interconnected world.
That is why you need to look at the top seven ways to serve your customers on social media after the sale. So many consumers actively using social media every day, it is crucial to utilize this platform to answer customers’ questions.
1. Listen to your customers.
So many things in life come down to the simple things you do. Social media is no different. Most people just want to be heard. They need to gripe about something not working, tell you their thoughts on the services they paid for, and just need a sounding board for their frustrations and excitement.
Not to say that all customer service interactions are bad. Yet, the majority of customer service stories we hear are horror stories. This means, when something goes wrong, businesses need to take accountability for their part, and listen in to what the customer truly wants.
To help you do this, we go through some tools you can use to listen into your customers’ conversations on social media.
- Hootsuite – track your brand mentions across social media, along with the ability to manage multiple social networks.
- Google Trends – Great for listening to what people are saying about specific industry keywords as well as your own business across the web.
- Radian6 – Now part of Salesforce CRM system, this listening tool allows businesses to organize their teams more effectively as they listen into the company’s presence on the web.
Keep in mind that these tools will make your life easier, but you have to make the effort to listen to your customers first. The beginning of any conversation starts when you hear what the other person has to say.
2. Be transparent
Which brings up another point. When you address a customers’ customer service question, make sure you are open and honest when working with them.
Customers know when you are lying or hiding something from them. Now they can seriously damage a company’s reputation when they can take their case to Facebook, Twitter, and Yelp. Their infuriation with your services will spill out into a movement in some cases that becomes hard to contain.
Take the now-famous case of United Breaks Guitars. This tongue in cheek song by the Sons of Maxwell has over 14 million people telling the story of how customer service reps ignored the pleas of the lead guitarist, Dave Carroll, for over a year for reparations. This after two bag handlers tossed and broke his $3500 guitar at O’Hare airport.
The video started a revolution in customer service, where it demonstrated how much power consumers have today in breaking company’s reputation.
While breaking $3500 guitars are bad, nothing really beats a #CruiseFromHell. This was the Twitter trending topic after one of Carnival cruise lines ships, Triumph, broke down in the beginning of 2013 when an on-board fire stranded the ship for 5 days.
A case study in how not to respond to a trending topic, Carnival chose not to respond to the catastrophe when this incident happened. Passengers were stuck on the ship for five days, without necessities like working toilets, fresh food, and air conditioning. Let alone an apology from Carnival Cruises.
By the time, Carnival did respond, a simple apology long since passed.
Even today, the trending topic #CruiseFromHell still gets traction from people discussing the event in marketing and travel circles.
3. Respond promptly
The challenge with Carnival Cruises brings up an important point. If a customer has a problem with your service, do not make them wait. Respond back in a timely manner.
Social media sometimes requires too quick of a response time for many companies.
However, if you set the rules, so your customers know your response time, then many will respect your decision. Set a time limit for your team to get respond, and then respond to customers in that designated time. If you use automated emails that tell customers you respond back within 48 hours, respond back in 48 hours.
Similarly, with social media, do your best to respond within 24 business hours. To help you do this, sales professionals and marketing teams can use mobile apps to see questions on social networks as they arise.
Larger companies need to set social networking hours where they can answer questions. This way, customers know when you are available to help them.
4. Put yourself in your customer’s shoes
How do you understand then what is the right thing to say at the right moment?
Social media is a great way to learn about issues from the customers’ perspective. Use social media as a tool to ask customers about your services.
More than likely, they have many great ideas about how you can improve your business that you might never consider.
In some cases, you might even consider involving customers in the product creation process. Allowing customers to help you understand what they want next could be a boon to your product launches, because they will be more empowered when using your product, which could lead to more referrals and shares, as well as an engaged audience.
A relatively simple way to do this is to create surveys.
- Survey Monkey – One of the leading survey companies is a great place to start surveying your customers and prospects. This site provides you with the free and premium tools you need to find out what your customers want from you.
- Facebook Simple Surveys – Another method would be to include the survey hosted on your Facebook page. Facebook Simple Surveys makes this possible.
A number of companies have great success with this idea.
- Crocs – The shoemaker had the great idea to utilize customers’ votes for deciding their favorite shoes on Facebook. When people vote, they are entered into a contest to win a pair of sneakers.
- Sony – Another great idea comes from Sony. They had customers go on their blog to look for new electronic speaker names.
- Jays Potato Chips – along the same lines as Crocs, Jays Potato Chips had a contest to determine the new flavor of social media. To keep up with the contest, you needed to be a Jays’ fan.
5. Share Success Stories
Stop focusing on your successes. Focus on your customers’ successes. Social media customer service is not only there to create products and answer questions. Instead, the platform creates a tighter relationship with consumers interested in your services.
Therefore, it only makes sense to talk about their victories on social media. Like Dale Carnegie said, ‘you win more friends with honey than vinegar.’
A good way to do this is to have a case of the week, which highlights a great customer every week to your social media network. Remember to tag your customer of the week, so they can share the post. Additionally, think about ways that highlighting your customer of the week will help to highlight your business.
Skittles has been very successful with this approach on Facebook. Every week they have their BFF (Best Fan Forever) award. As they state on the award underneath, Well…For this week only!
The fan gets their picture and first name displayed before 26 million other Skittles fans. What a way to pay homage to Skittles aficionados.
Combined with their kooky posts about rainbows, skittles, and random facts, fans really relate to the brand. They know that the brand wants to be an interesting part of their life.
6. Product Education
Do you have a confusing product? Is there a bit of a learning curve? Then create a series of videos on YouTube explaining your product. This way you can answer many customers’ questions at once.
Especially as you begin to grow, it is great to use this system. That way you do not have to spend insane man-hours and money on customers service reps.
Use current customers question to start creating quick videos that answer these prominent questions from your clientele.
Additionally, you can create a forum like WordPress.Org. On the forum, experienced WordPress users can then help newbies in the forums. With over 1.466 million topics and 4.8 million posts, can you imagine the customer service expense saved from their forum?
7. Social media is a customer service add-on
This might seem obvious, but social media is not a replacement for customer service. Instead, an add-on should be part of the process. Make sure you have other avenues to take care of the customer service process. Otherwise, your social media customer service might be lacking.
Consider an FAQ that answers many of the questions right away. This works great in tandem with the YouTube videos we mentioned in the previous strategy.
Additionally, make sure that you have a contact form on your website, or a prominent phone number for customers to call with their concerns.
Social Media Customer Service
The key to using social media for customer service is to put in place something that works best for your customers’ needs. That is why the first few ideas are listening, transparency, and quick responses. If you can use social media to do all three of those items, then you will be able to create a dynamic relationship with your connections.
Honest communication then is required for good customer service to take place, whether on social media or any other forum. Social media magnifies your abilities to serve your customers’ needs.
Think about the best social media customer service you can use for your customers. Decide the best approach to social media for them, and let us know what lessons you took from this article. What have you seen work on social media for your own business? Then let us know in the comments below.
About the Author: Andy Nathan is the author of the upcoming book Start Up Gap. He is a prolific blogger and freelance writer, creating over 3,000 articles in the past 5 years.