To maintain a social customer care program, companies must manage and make sense of a sea of information that ebbs and flows by the minute. This includes assessing the volume, validity, and severity of complaints that span multiple social networks.
Legal and compliance issues can delay responses. Marketing and sales can muddy the waters by insisting their messages be included. Striking the right tone and avoiding insincere replies can be difficult to achieve internally due to cultural and political influences.
Just remember: in the end, your customers want to communicate with real people.
Authenticity in Social Customer Care
Customers seldom want to hear the canned company messaging. And they’re not jumping on social media just to follow a company or brand. Paul Taylor, an innovation coach for Bromford Lab, suggests the organizations that do the best on social media are the ones who commit to having real conversations with their customers.
“The very best thing any organization can do is to project an image of being an open and listening organization. Not an organization that’s talking about itself all the time,” Taylor said. “A lot of organizations make the mistake of having every single post being about themselves or their service. And that is like begging people to complain about you. Successful social care requires organizational humility and coming across as being a reflective organization instead of a bullish marketing organization.”
Connecting Through the Right Social Channels
Social media can give your organization a platform for more than just responding to positive or negative customer comments. When used properly, it can serve as a valuable communication channel.
Shep Hyken, a customer service and experience expert, says many companies use Twitter to communicate directly with customers.
“Let’s say I’m flying on an airline, and I notice that we’re circling the airport,” Hyken said. “I can direct message the airline over Twitter with my frequent flyer number to let them know I might miss my flight. The airline can then respond to let me know that they’ll hold my flight for me.”
In this example, the airline has transitioned from reacting to customer complaints to using Twitter as a channel to provide service. Hyken encourages organizations to stay on the same channel as the customer. If a customer contacts you on Twitter, don’t ask them to switch to Facebook or call the support center.
While social customer care is often associated with Twitter and Facebook, other forms of social media can also educate and influence customers. For example, historical information on parts and repairs can be maintained on Wikipedia. Customer service reps could answer relevant questions in a Q&A site like Quora, potentially winning over people who aren’t yet customers of their brand. Or reps could post how-to videos on YouTube.
“People don’t think of YouTube as a customer service channel,” Hyken said. “But it absolutely is. It’s like having an instructor standing over your customer’s shoulder and telling them what to do next. That saves you time by cutting down the number of customer calls, which is good ROI.”
Corporate blogs also serve as a means of connecting with customers. However, Taylor warns that the content must remain casual and come from a broad set of contributors ranging from service representatives, product managers, and senior-level executives.
“As we work on being more human and trustworthy, a simple thing to do is to encourage blogging outside the normal set of corporate executives,” Taylor said. “This offers a different set of content like what the person did before work that day or what they did recently to help a customer. What that says to customers is that you have people in your company who are just like them, which starts a dialog and builds a relationship in ways that a press release simply can’t do.”
To learn more, check out our eBook, “Social Customer Care: How to Use Social Media to Improve Customer Support.” It explores reasons for adopting a social customer care program and provides tips from industry experts on how to get there.