Using Social Media for Customer Service: How and When to Monitor and Respond

In my last two blogs in the “Using Social Media for Customer Service” series I talked about why customer service matters on social media and what exactly it is that customers are looking for. Once you know where your customers are reaching out and what their expectations are, it’s now time to impress them.

Game Plan

1. Monitor Your Brand

The first step in practicing effective social-media customer service is making sure you follow everything being said about your brand online so you can listen in for issues and respond when needed. For this, you might need a social media monitoring tool. To get started, there are plenty of free tools, including:

  • Google Alerts – Google Alerts are email updates of the latest relevant Google results (web, news, etc.) based on your queries.
  • Social Mention – Social Mention is a social media search engine that searches user-generated content such as blogs, comments, bookmarks, events, news, and videos.

2. Know When to Step In

But even as you monitor, know that not every mention, or even every complaint, is an invitation to enter a conversation.

A Netbase survey that asked consumers how they felt about social listening from brands revealed that more than half wanted to be able to talk about companies on social media without them paying attention. Many even believe brand listening is a direct invasion of their privacy.
customer service for social media

Measuring Success

So how will you measure your progress when it comes to impressing customers on social media? Here are a few customer-service metrics to consider.

1. Volume of Messages

The obvious place to start is: How many customer requests, issues and problems are you responding to every period?

Total volume tells you a couple of things: How big the workload is, how many people you need on your team to keep customer happiness high and whether you’re answering more questions or fewer.

2. Resolution Rate

customer service for social media

We’ve established that speed is really important in social media customer service, so it only makes sense to measure timing issues like average time it takes to answer a question or resolve a problem. You can set goals such as “Respond to 60% of issues within 2 hours” and work to improve this rate over time.

3. Customer Happiness

Lastly, it’s important to get an idea of how customers are feeling about your brand overall. You can quantify this by collecting your social media mentions per reporting period and then analyzing them by sentiment, such as positive, negative or neutral.

Mention is another great service that collects this information in a report showing all the channels your mentions are coming from. Here is what their dashboard looks like when all your channels are connected.

customer service for social mediaThe Bottom Line

Most companies view social media as a marketing medium for outbound messaging, but customers expect more than just posts touting products. Customers are also willing to reward brands that go the extra mile to please them.

Using social media as a customer service channel allows you an additional way to impress customers. If you missed my previous blogs, take a look here at Why Customer Service Matters and What Customers Want for more ways to stay on top on the social media customer service game.

 

Using Social Media for Customer Service: What Customers Want

If you read my previous blog, you now know why it’s important to use social media for your customer service. In this part, let’s figure out what exactly customers want and expect from companies.

Quick Response to Problems

The number one thing customers want is a fast response. According to an Edison study, 42% of consumers expect a response on social media within one hour, and 32% think it should be within 30 minutes of their complaint.

social media for customer serviceDid you know that more consumers would recommend a brand that provides a quick but ineffective response than would recommend a brand that provides a slow but effective solution?

The vast majority of Twitter and Facebook users want a response within the same day of posting. And yet, lots of brands aren’t picking up on the urgency customers have.

Understanding and Honesty

This one’s harder to measure, but just as important as speed. 70% of the buying experience is based on how a person thinks they’re being treated. Simple phrases like “I’m sorry” can quickly transform a conversation and begin to build a real relationship. If you don’t know the answer yet, go ahead and say so, but just keep in touch until you do.

It also never hurts to use names when talking with people, even over social media. Add a personal touch by making sure to add their first name to the reply or comment. You can also end it by signing your name. That way, people immediately feel that they are talking to an actual person and not a talking wall or logo.

Help Where They Ask for It

Generally, we all want help in the same place where we reach out and ask for it. If a customer asks for help on Twitter, they want their answer in the form of a tweet, not an email. If they post a question on Facebook, they don’t want to be told to call an 800 number. Getting shuffled around is a customer pet peeve both off and online.

Also, it helps to know where online customers are looking for help. Customers might also reach out on your blog, ask questions on another social media site where you’re active or even post comments on forums or message boards specific to your industry. Study your own patterns for each network your customers are active on and make sure you reply accordingly.

How good is your company at responding to messages on social media? Stay tuned for the final blog in the series about how and when to monitor and respond.

 

Using Social Media for Customer Service: Why It Matters

Customer service might be easier to manage than you think. If you treat customers like they are real people, genuinely care about their issues and resolve them in a timely manner, you’ll end up with happy, loyal customers.

Why Customer Service Matters on Social Media

Let’s begin with some bad news. Even if you think you’re giving amazing social media customer service, chances are…you’re not. Check out this mind-boggling statistic from HelpScout: social media for customer service

Crazy right?! Well it’s quite simple really…customers want, expect and are prepared to reward great social media customer service, but not many brands are living up to their expectations. On the bright side, this means there is a huge opportunity for you to stand out and really impress your customers.

Let’s Take a Look at the Numbers:

Fact: Only 36% of consumers that make customer service inquiries via social media report having their issue solved quickly and effectively.

It’s surprising that this percentage isn’t higher. Wouldn’t you want to resolve any issues that came up immediately? A happy customer is a repeat customer. Which leads me to my next point…

Fact: When companies engage and respond to customer service requests over social media, those customers end up spending 20% to 40% more with the company.

The more your customers spend in your store, the better.

Fact: 71% of those who experience positive social care (i.e., a quick and effective brand response) are likely to recommend that brand to others, compared to just 19% of customers that do not receive any response.

Convinced you need to be using social media for customer service yet?social media for customer service

Don’t forget about the small matter of every single interaction being open for public view when it comes to social media. More than one million people view tweets about customer service every week, and roughly 80% of those tweets are negative or critical in nature. And one bad interaction can wipe out even more good ones.

Get the social media buzz going in your direction and the possibilities are limitless. Does your company use social media for customer service? We hope you consider starting if you haven’t already.

Stay tuned for the next blog in my series about what social media customer want from your brand.

 

Crutchfield’s Digital Experience Rocks More Than Just Ear Drums

I recently came across an interesting white paper published by Ektron titled, “Demystifying Digital Experience Management.” The paper offers tips for creating positive and memorable digital experiences. In the middle of reading this document, I heard a knock at my front door. It was the deliveryman holding a product I had ordered from online electronics retailer Crutchfield.

Not long after I closed the door, I felt my phone vibrate in my pocket. Crutchfield had sent me an eerily-timed email promoting a sale on their high-end, touch screen receivers (an undeniable step up from what I had just purchased). It was from this experience that the idea for this blog post was hatched. According to Ektron, shaping an outstanding digital experience requires proper contextualization, consistency and integration across web, social and mobile platforms.

How would I rate Crutchfield in these areas?

Contextualization Grade: A

It’s no secret that individuals’ experiences, interests and preferences can differ greatly. These important factors also contribute to the “context” that surrounds any business interaction. The more a digital experience is customized to fit an individual’s unique profile, the more effective communication with him/her will be. Ektron believes “Adapting the context of the communication to fit the individual is a hallmark of a great digital experience.” Crutchfield understands this.

For example, when browsing their website, they ask shoppers to input the year, make and model of their vehicle to quickly identify products that are compatible. Behind-the-scenes, this information is also used to deliver personalized content, like the e-mail below I received after plugging in my vehicle’s details.

crutchfield1

 

Consistency Grade: B

Maintaining consistency across numerous digital channels is another important component of the digital experience. What needs to be consistent? According to Ektron, not only a brand’s look and feel but also its messaging. After a quick look at Crutchfield’s Facebook page you’ll notice two things: (1) their logo and brand look are consistent with its other channels, and (2) the content and feel are much different than what you’d expect based upon their website and e-mail communications.

For example, their typical Twitter message tends to be polished and professional with an occasional “very cool” or “that’s awesome” slipped in. Their Facebook Page in contrast, is full very humor heavy (while still relevant) with an occasional straight-faced post mixed in. As a fan of humor myself, I’m not saying I’m against this approach. The post below has received over 250 likes and 121 comments, which are solid engagement stats.  I’m simply saying that this break from consistency seems to go against Ektron’s recommendation. What are your thoughts?

crutchfield2

 

Integration Grade: A

Ektron’s white paper also discusses the importance of integrating systems such as content management, marketing automation, customer relationship management, analytics and social data into a company’s digital tool kit. I’ve never sat in on a Crutchfield digital integration strategy meeting, but my experience as a customer tells me that they’re highly aware of its importance.

Previously, I mentioned receiving an e-mail from them that included suggested products to fit my specific car. What I didn’t mention is that I received that e-mail literally minutes after I had added an item to their online shopping cart and then abandoned the purchase. This tells me that they’re likely using a marketing automation solution to automate real-time follow-up. Apparently they’ve designated shopping cart abandonments as an e-mail trigger within their workflow. Their use of automation software would also explain how/why I received a digital and paper catalog shortly after my initial purchase.

crutchfield3

 

When you add up these grades, Crutchfield earns a report card that would make any mother proud. There’s no doubt they’ve done their homework on the digital experience and have successfully integrated their knack for service excellence into their digital efforts (see their retweet below). It’s no coincidence they’ve received so many awards including Bizrate Research’s Circle of Excellence Platinum Award for 14 consecutive years!

douglasleclair

 

Leave a comment below or connect with me on Twitter. I’d love to hear about your most memorable digital experience, your thoughts on digital automation or your smack talk about the old school car I drive!

No One Puts Social Media in the Corner!

Every time I read an article or blog post that tells me how I should leverage social media as a tool in my “marketing toolbox,” I cringe a little. It’s true, historically the marketing department has often been tasked with developing and managing organizations’ social media programs. This connection is natural and understandable. The importance of maintaining a strong social media presence for marketing purposes is also well documented! But don’t be so quick to cram all social media tools into the corner of a little square box labeled “marketing.” When you begin to look at social and mobile platforms as toolboxes all their own—able to be implemented and operated in countless different ways—you begin to realize that creativity really is the only limiting factor. Here are few examples:

Customer Service. With great social power comes great responsibility for businesses. “We’re getting to the point now that if companies don’t respond [to social media feedback] they will have a black mark against them,” warns Inc. This is significant when you consider how many customer service opportunities are missed by organizations every day. Up to 70% of companies ignore customer complaints on Twitter—and that’s just one platform! Delivering service recovery and harvesting improvement ideas aren’t the only customer service functions that social media can support either. Responding to positive reviews, genuinely thanking customers and engaging with other individuals’ content are keys to developing a strong online community with a positive sentiment toward your company.

Human Resources. Over the past several years, there has been huge growth in the number of businesses using social media to attract and engage customers. More recently, HR departments have been hopping on board, using social networking tools like LinkedIn and apps like HireVue to connect with talented, highly-qualified employees. On the other end of the spectrum, candidates are using many of the same social channels to investigate and evaluate companies before applying. Savvy individuals are even using resources such as glassdoor.com to get the “real scoop” on employers from past employees. If you’re curious what social HR trends will take off in 2014, take a look at 2014: The Year Social HR Matters published in Forbes by Jeanne Meister.

Internal Communications. Effective internal communication is critically important to every business in every industry. Consider the possible benefits of utilizing an enterprise social network, such as Yammer, within your company.  Imagine employees quickly and easily asking each other questions and sharing ideas. Then envision a supervisor responding to a concern and posting a Happy Birthday message to a team member. The idea of building an internal community is really about fostering employee engagement, boosting workplace morale and reinforcing your company as a great place to work. In this article, Social Business News lays out a 5-step roadmap for harnessing the power of social media for internal business communication.

What are your thoughts about using social media beyond the standard marketing role? How have you seen companies utilize social media in creative ways? Send a tweet to @AHersh317 and keep the conversation going!

Getting Personal Through Social Media

social media

Social media is an extremely powerful tool for any business. Is this news to anyone? It shouldn’t be!

Any business can take advantage of these effective platforms, but it has to be done correctly to reap the benefits. Many businesses look at social media as another sales avenue, but that strategy is all wrong. Yes, it is a sales tool, but not for direct sales. Instead, think of it as the first step towards a sale by marketing great content across multiple online channels to potential customers! You don’t want to estrange current and potential customers by using social media improperly. By always keeping your voice and message authentic throughout your social media marketing plan, you can draw in fans and slowly guide them towards a sale.

The most important word in Social Media Marketing is social! Social doesn’t mean logging into Facebook and promoting your business or daily lunch specials every day. Being social means engaging with your fans on the social media platforms you choose to be on for your business. So how can you engage?

  • Listen. Whether the comments you’re receiving are positive or negative, listen to what your customers are telling you and take it as free market research and feedback on your products/services. Let them know that you hear what they’re saying and you’re going to take it into consideration. This lets your customers know that they do have a voice and opinion that matters to you.
  • Poll your audience. Ask them questions and use them as a test group for new products, services or launches.
  • Tell stories. Storytelling has been around for thousands of years and can quickly captivate your audience. Share stories that are touching, that people can connect with or that have a humorous ending.
  • Hold a contest. Contests are great ways to bring in new fans, engage your current customers and create excitement! Pick a relevant prize, make the contest easy to enter and then spread it throughout your social media platforms to expand your reach. Don’t forget that after a contest, you need to keep your fans engaged.
  • Customer Service. Social media is a great tool to give excellent, real-time customer service. Answer questions from potential customers about your business, solve problems as soon as they happen to flip an angry customer to a raving fan, announce events and thank people for choosing your brand.

When you connect with individuals on a personal level, they feel like less of a customer and more of a friend. I’m not saying don’t ever talk about your business or specials, but spread these posts out between other engaging content such as community events or industry news. Creating a sense of community will go a long way with your online audience.

Building trust and personal relationships with your audience is what social media is all about. By steering away from being a direct sales channel and towards humanizing your brand, you’ll see the rewards. Authenticity and engagement will take you a long way!