Social media has revolutionized your personal life in ways you could never have imagined; with a quick scroll, you can identify which of your friends and family possess questionable political beliefs (okay, Aunt Betsy, we get it), who has gotten engaged, which orphaned puppy/adorable zoo animal duo is trending, etc.
But in recent years, social media has not been more than just a tool to help you weed out friends you are no longer aligned with. Social media provides valuable insight to facilitate customer service that is more responsive and efficient than ever. Through various platforms, customer support teams can learn who their customers are, their demographics, their location, their interests, their impressions of your brand, and more.
So, how do you turn all this information into rich customer experiences that increase brand awareness and loyalty?
Know where your customers spend their time.
According to recent studies, active internet users spend 28% of their time online social networking, so it is imperative that you are aware of where your target audience (current and prospective customers) spend their time.
Facebook. With over 1.5 billion monthly users, the platform continues to reach more potential customers than any other. In addition to the sheer size of users, Facebook also dominates time and engagement when it come to social media.
Twitter. Although Twitter may have slightly less users than Facebook (a measly 313 million), a survey of the top 50 global brands by Forrester revealed that top brands post more on Twitter than on any other social media platform. The short character limit and use of hashtags makes twitter a great way to easily identify who is speaking about your brand, and gauge public opinion.
Google+. Google+ is sitting at 111 million users, but that doesn’t mean it should be overlooked. To reach as many current prospects and customers as possible, expand your Google+ circles and have a regular posting schedule.
Linkedin. There are 450 million users on LinkedIn, across 200 countries around the world. The interesting thing about the platform? It has the highest organic reach of any other social media site, and generates more website traffic than any other platform (so… it’s kind of important).
With this knowledge in mind, and after doing some more targeted research to understand which channels are worth the resources, invest in a social care programs to truly interact with your audience. According to a this report from Aberdeen Group, companies with social care programs perform better than their counterparts. They also enjoy a 5.6 percent increase in first-contact resolutions, a 6.5 percent increase in agent productivity, and a 17.5 percent increase in SLA attainment.
Personalize your customer service.
A tremendous benefit of customer service through social media is the less formal environment. Here, you have the opportunity to sound like an actual human being and not a robot. Make jokes (but don’t cross the line), refer to people by name, be empathetic, and all other qualities non-cyborgs possess.
If possible, don’t let any praise go unrecognized. Thanking your followers for their kind words and endorsements will give you a reputation of valuing your customer, and that’s a customer support gold mine.
It’s not too late to say sorry.
Never be afraid of negative feedback on social media. Never ignore negative comments or try to block the users. This is just another opportunity to provide exceptional customer service in very public fashion (it’s a win-win). Be as direct and honest with apologies as possible.
“When things are going bad, it’s okay to apologize online,” said Frank Eliason, global director of the Citi client experience team. “The problem in the business community is that we’ve gotten away from humanity. We’re not machines. We should stop acting like machines. The world is filled with human beings, so it’s okay to be human.”
For customers who are frustrated with unending transfers, social media provides access across multiple lines of businesses. One Twitter handle can represent several products. For example, a banking Twitter service handle can address mortgages, student loans and credit cards. So no more “hold please, let me transfer you to that department.”
In the end, social media puts a magnifying glass on the customer service efforts (or lack thereof) to organizations worldwide. Your interactions with customers are public and will let future customers know how much you value them. Create an environment where customer support teams are empowered and armed to provide great service for your current and prospective customers. Remember, on social media, you are a human, so act like one!