According to recent J.D Power study, 67 percent of consumers have used a company’s social media website, expecting a response within 60 minutes when sending out a tweet and/or Facebook message.
So, in reading this, there’s probably a good chance you may have reached out to one of your favorite companies, either expecting a resolution to your complaint or maybe it was a simple inquiry needing a simple answer.
If you’re not using social media as a customer service tool, you’re missing out on boosting customer engagement and increasing your brand loyalty, all of which, as you know, is extremely important. With social media growing leaps and bounds in the foreseeable future, it’s important to jump on the bandwagon now if you want to survive in this technological era.
To offer some motivation and even a few ideas on how you can offer better customer service via social, here’s a brief look at 10 ways top brands are using social media as a customer service tool:
In the past, before social media even existed, a VIP customer was the one who your customer service team would spend the most time on since they, of course, spent the big bucks; however, things have changed. In the social media era, the VIP customer could be that 16-year-old who tells her friend on Twitter, who retweets, and before you know it, it has 10,000 shares, putting quite the damper on your reputation if it’s a bad situation. With that in mind, companies such as Nike, for example, respond to every single response and are staffed 24/7, oftentimes, offering a response in as little as a few minutes.
Social media doesn’t have to be all about answering complaints; you can have fun with it as well. For example, recently, a teenager asked Wendy’s on Twitter what it would take to receive a free year of nuggets for a year. In a witty reply, the official Wendy’s account said, “18 million.” Well, to Wendy’s surprise, it took off, and the teenager, Carter Wilkerson, was ousted on Ellen DeGeneres, who, in the past, held the record for the most retweets. Wilkerson, as of today, has close to four million retweets, and even though he didn’t get 18 million, Wendy’s offered nuggets for a year and made a $100,000 donation to the Dave Thomas Foundation.
Sooner or later, your company may have something go terribly wrong. Take United Airlines, for example. With the recent backlash of the doctor being dragged off the plane because he refused to give up his seat, your PR department could have a hard time turning a negative into a positive. While it can be hard to avoid this backlash, it’s important to watch every word you post because people will be watching, even if the post was created four years ago. The internet never forgets.
By monitoring social media 24/7, your company can help a customer when they need help the most or respond to a status if you were tagged. The quicker you can resolve the issue or reach out to your customer, the better it will look on your part. Take the hospitality industry, for example. The Wynn in Las Vegas, for instance, responds to those who check in on Foursquare or reaches out to those on Twitter who mentions their brand name. Looking at some interactions in the past, the Wynn has done everything from asking a customer about last night’s poker game to shifting a customer to a new room because of a problem. The same can be said about the restaurant industry. If you were to send a bad picture of a pizza to Papa John’s, there’s a good chance you’ll get a resolution in minutes, no matter when you send the Tweet.
Never let a Tweet or Facebook post/message go unnoticed because people can tell. If you were to go to one of your favorite restaurant’s social media page and noticed they weren’t responding to anyone, what does that say about your customer service experience? Even if you don’t want to publicly discuss the problem, you can send something as simple as “Hi, X, please send us a message with more details.” This, at a minimum, can at least show the public you acknowledged the issue. JetBlue, for starters, excels in responding to those who have a problem. If you were to send them a tweet about a delayed flight, for instance, they often respond within an hour, offering an update on your situation.
Many large brands, including Nike as mentioned earlier, have their own separate social media handle customer inquiries only. If you create a separate account, which is often advised if you’re a larger company, then this can make it easier for a customer to reach out, knowing this account is for suggestions, complaints, etc. That way, any tweet that comes this way, will more than likely need a customer service response. Even if you do have a separate channel, however, it doesn’t mean you should ignore your other channels for inquiries. It’s always best to monitor every channel you decide to open.
While it may be tempting to set up an autoresponder to respond instantly to any incoming mention, this can be just as bad as not responding at all. Comcast, if you were to look at their @comcastcares account, you will notice most replies answer technical questions indirectly and accurately. By offering real advice, customers can walk away knowing you genuinely tried to help them with the issue.
Of course, you can’t be available 24/7 if you’re a smaller, or larger, business. Since a lot of people on social media can often be impatient for a response, it’s best to put your hours of “social media” operation inside your profile description. Take @AskAmex, the American Express official customer care Twitter handle, for instance. If you pay close attention to their description, it tells you they are available on social media from 9 a.m. until 10 p.m. ET.
If you have more than one person managing your social media account, it’s wise to end the tweet or Facebook response with some sort of signature. UPS, if you pay close attention to their Facebook page will always respond to inquiries, followed by an employee name. This can add a personal touch, and on your side, it can help you organize, knowing who sent out what.
Seamless, one of my favorite social media accounts, is an online food ordering service that has, what could be, one of the best social media strategies out there. Their account is fun, food friendly, and what’s best is that they often send out discount codes to those who follow. Beyond that, they reply to everything, ranging from a late order to a website that isn’t working. If your current customers or even future customers catch wind that you reward them with coupons and offers, they will be more likely to follow you for these future rewards.
Social media, of course, is only part of the customer service experience. If you’re not currently use it or it’s here and there, you’re, again, missing out on so much potential. As you can see, so many of America’s top brands are using social media effectively, interacting with customers in a new way. In this social media world, as news travels faster than ever, it’s important to learn the strategies to keep your brand growing strong.
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