By Duke Chung
With the advent of social media channels, customer service has forever changed. Consumers are no longer willing to sit and listen to classical music on hold. In today’s age of hyper-responsiveness, customers expect instant responses from support reps on very public online platforms.
Instead of shying away from social media, smart businesses will leverage their social channels to spread a positive brand reputation, to connect happy customers and to step up their customer support efforts.
Consumers aren’t eager to blast negative messages about your company – unless your brand is unresponsive. I recently learned at an IBM conference that customers are five times more likely to post something positive than negative, and that companies usually have at least 10 warnings before someone posts a negative comment.
Happy customers who get their issues resolved tell an average of four to six people about their positive experiences, according to the White House Office of Consumer Affairs. It pays to treat your customers well, not only for the repeat business, but also to gain the positive word-of-mouth consumers now broadcast across social media. Satisfied customers can become your most influential brand ambassadors. They’ll help to answer customer service questions posted online and also tout their own positive experiences with your business.
Here are the five best ways to turn customers into brand ambassadors through customer service.
When a customer turns to social media for a support issue, he expects a brand to generate the fastest response possible. According to a recent UK study, 25% of social media users expect a response within one hour, and 6% expect a response within 10 minutes. If you allow a support issue to dangle for too long, you risk being perceived as a company that either doesn’t know the answer or doesn’t care enough to reply promptly.
Remember, most people on social networks aren’t itching to post negative comments. They only do so after a bad experience. Therefore, don’t give them enough time to have a bad experience.
Private and direct messaging on Facebook and Twitter is all well and good, but when it comes to customer service, it’s best to be totally transparent and visible. The answer you give to one customer could, in turn, help thousands more. Think of each post and interaction as a resource that future customers can reference. Not to mention, customers will be more apt to direct friends to your page with their own questions.
Social media sites foster an online community around your brand. Watch how customers discuss and respond to your products so you can join the conversation and better understand the community that supports your brand.
It’s vital that you ensure all customer support answers remain consistent across the web and across all social channels. If a common question is posted on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, then each response should communicate the same solution. Conflicting answers create confused, unhappy customers. Just as people expect consistent experiences with your products, they also expect consistent service across all of your channels. Brand accuracy drives confidence and credibility, and helps build brand loyalty among your customers.
If consistency creates brand ambassadors, then being organized is equally paramount. Admittedly, the cross-company integration and management of social media continues to be challenging. Maintaining a successful social media presence on just one network is a full-time job. Trying to do it over multiple networks is impossible if your support staff isn’t properly organized.
Customers can spot disorganization a mile away, especially online. However, if you demonstrate that your company support knows what it’s doing, you’ll earn the respect and trust of brand loyalists. Organization goes beyond knowing who does what on the support team; it’s also vital that everyone on the team is on the same page. Each team member must know where to seek reliable answers, and each must source information from the same place.
As cool as Siri is, she still hasn’t crossed from digital assistant to human entity. Until then, your social media customer support should remain as human as possible. On the bright side, social networks already take the formalities out of conversation. It’s one of their biggest draws.
Therefore, a customer’s name isn’t “Inquiry #83kd4z.” She’s Christie from Denver. People respond best when they feel like they’re talking to other people. Your customer support should make customers feel as if they’re posting a normal question on a friend’s wall. Creating that kind of relationship with your customer should be the priority of any company.
Using customer service to create brand ambassadors isn’t the Herculean task it once was. Social media is presenting countless opportunities to turn your company’s support system into an open, interactive community, where customers can share their positive experiences with one another and spread the good word about your products and services – all on your behalf.