Research has revealed
that the humble telephone is no longer the only go-to device for contacting a
company. With digital devices always by our side – whether it’s a smartphone,
laptop or tablet – many consumers find it far easier engaging with brands via
their social channels.
More than 70% of
consumers would choose another channel over the telephone if they knew their
query would be resolved on the first attempt, Ovum research
shows. At the same time, NM Incite’s State
of Social Customer Service report unveiled that almost one-third of social
media users prefer to connect with a brand through a social platform compared
to the telephone.
In the public eye
There are three main
reasons why a customer makes contact with a brand on social media: to ask a
question about a product or service, to share a positive brand experience or
review, or to vent their frustration. Unfortunately for brands, the latter is
most popular, with a Guardian study
finding that social complaints rose eight-fold between January 2014 and May
Brand engagement is
no longer a one-way street; customers are now in control of how, and when, they
communicate with you. And whereas a telephone exchange is extremely personal,
if someone complains on your Facebook wall, that comment is there for the world
(or at least, your followers) to see.
Given the public
nature of social media interactions, it’s vital to regularly monitor, acknowledge,
and respond to customer comments. It’s called ‘social care’; nurturing customer
relationships through social media engagement – and here are the golden rules
you’d be wise to abide by:
60 is the magic number
No one likes being
put on hold when calling a company’s contact centre. In a similar way, time is
of the essence when engaging on social media.
Take Twitter, for
Technologies uncovered that 53% of social media users expect a reply within
an hour of commenting on a company’s page, with the figure rising to 72% when a
You should aim for a
response time of 60 minutes or less across all social platforms. The faster the
response, the more satisfied the customer is likely to be, and the less likely
they are to voice their dissatisfaction further.
Start with an apology
If you’re responding
to a complaint, always start with an apology – “We’re sorry to hear you’re not
satisfied with our service”, for instance. Accepting responsibility by saying
sorry demonstrates that you respect and value your customers, which in turn
will encourage them to continue using your services. The next step is to offer
a solution to the customer’s problem – how are you going to make it right?
If you don’t agree
with a complaint, don’t be sarcastic or combative in your response. Rather,
offer an apology and help the customer to realise the error of their ways in a
polite, non-patronising way.
copy-and-pasted responses; these are likely to rile dissatisfied customers even
more. Instead, make sure all replies are personal: address customers by their
first name, and target their specific issues. The more human and genuine your
response, the more likely the customer is to accept it.
Continue the conversation
Once you’ve responded
to the customer, you needn’t carry on the conversation on social media. In
fact, offering alternative methods of communication – such as an email or phone
call – will prove to a customer that you’re taking their issue seriously and
are committed to resolving it. It’s as simple as ending your reply with:
‘please email XXX with your order number and we’ll take a look at the issue
Don’t delete complaints
If all press is good
press, then all comments – both negative and positive – are good comments. If
anything, complaints will enable you to identify weaknesses within your
business model, so you can address them and improve.
A huge mistake would
be to delete customer complaints from your profiles. Not only will doing this
anger the customers writing the posts (and you can be sure to lose them for
good), but other users will start to question your brand’s authenticity.
It’s far more
conducive to keep complaints – and your responses to them – visible on your
social pages, as visitors will be able to see that you take customer feedback
seriously and ensure that issues are rectified.
Provided your responses
are polite, personalised and delivered within an appropriate timescale, any
customer complaint has the potential to be turned into future revenue. In fact,
Lithium Technologies explains that if you deliver timely responses to users,
43% are more likely to recommend you to a friend or family member, 42% are
willing to give you praise on social media, and 35% are more likely to buy from
Of course, there are
many other advantages to creating a strong social presence: it helps to build
brand loyalty, garner trust, and turn customers into advocates of your brand.
Social care really is a win-win situation.
If you feel like you
don’t have the time or expertise to effectively manage your social channels,
why not outsource the task?
Find options for social media contact centre outsourcing.