Customer support. Designed to assist consumers with issues that they face, yet more often than not, this very service instills rage and annoyance amongst many, including myself. The sheer pain of waiting for a phone representative for hours on end, or sending several emails, only to receive an unhelpful, automated response has tarnished many a brands reputation. As a result, more and more customers are turning to the internet to either share their bad customer service stories or search for better answers.
Since social media has become integrated into almost every PR practitioner’s daily life, so has the element of customer service. Twitter has carved out a niche in becoming a de facto online customer service platform, transforming the way we interact with businesses. Gone are the days of one-way conversations dictated by brands, as we, the customers, have officially become the dictators. Dictators of speed, transparency and convenient methods of communication… making Twitter the perfect port of call for customers to get vocal, due to its public and real-time nature. And if the thousands of customer support accounts don’t give you a rough idea on how important this service has become, then maybe this statistic from Conversocial will. In the last two years alone, Twitter has seen an increase of 250% in customer service interactions.
This explosion of connectivity, and the power it continues to give customers, has been extremely daunting for companies, completely turning them upside down (Neumeier, 2015, p.11). And whilst I’m not surprised, considering the constant flow of information being disbursed by consumers, this form of online, direct interaction between businesses and customers is here to stay, and like it or not, they better get used to it.
Jed Hallam highlights the importance of businesses listening from, reacting to and learning from its customers in his book, The Social Media Manifesto. Today’s organisations are increasingly defined by the full experience they offer customers, rather than the messages accompanying their products. This goes to show that businesses must utilise social media platforms positively, in order to remain relevant within the evolving digital media landscape. So here are 3 of my tips to do just that…
TIME IS EVERYTHING
According to a Edison Research study, 32% of consumers who complained via social media expect a response within 30 minutes, with a further 42% expecting a response within an hour. Pretty demanding on the customers behalf but in order to survive companies must always respond with immediacy, or at least let them know you’ve seen their message and that you’re trying to find a resolution.
HANDLE WITH CARE
This is where the real skill comes in. Your customer service team must be able to read into a customer’s emotional state in order to determine whether humour or formality is appropriate. If in doubt, then follow this formula: identity issue, provide links to additional information, close the loop with a “thank-you”, sign off with agents name for that personal touch and always be consistent.
KNOW WHEN TO GO OFFLINE
Online customer service responses affect not just the customer you’re dealing with, but all your current and potential customers too. Twitter recently introduced a feature where you’re able to direct message any users, so take matters offline into your DM’s.
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Baer, J. and Baer, J. (2017). 42 Percent of Consumers Complaining in Social Media Expect 60 Minute Response Time. [online] Convince and Convert: Social Media Consulting and Content Marketing Consulting. Available at: http://www.convinceandconvert.com/social-media-research/42-percent-of-consumers-complaining-in-social-media-expect-60-minute-response-time/ [Accessed 4 Mar. 2017].
Frumkin, T. (2017). The 7 Most Important Customer Service Stats for 2017. [online] Conversocial.com. Available at: http://www.conversocial.com/blog/the-7-most-important-customer-service-stats-for-2017 [Accessed 4 Mar. 2017].
Hallam, J. (2013). The Social Media Manifesto. 1st ed. London: Palgrave Macmillan.
Neumeier, M. (2015). The Brand Flip. 1st ed. Berkeley, California: New Riders.