Don’t you hate it when you ask a question and you don’t get a response? Yeah, I hate it too. However, customer service is not the first thing that comes to mind when you think about social media. Customer service is a key foundation element of social media and a key to its success.
Most businesses have a public online community page on a social network, and nearly all are absolutely dreadful at customer service online. This means that they are extending their reach of contact to their consumers, both current and prospective, but not answering their many questions, and dealing with their issues. Nothing turns a consumer off more than an unanswered question or an issue not dealt with.
Why should Companies Pay More Attention to Social Media in Customer Service?
A consumer posts a question or an issue on the wall, and it goes unanswered indefinitely. This consumer was really interested in one of your products or services, and is a repeat customer, but you’ve ignored it. Now, what do you think will happen? One, they might just go to a competitor, losing you the business; or two, they will immediately post a bad review of your company, and the seemingly bad customer service your company reflects. Now, the first will hurt you, and your competitor would be happier for it, but the second can really hurt a company’s image, especially since when a complaint it posted, it usually goes viral and consists of other company bashing among peers, which could never be a good thing.
I’ve personally seen the above happen, because I am a consumer who uses social media; and I’m not alone. For instance, if I go to a restaurant, check in on Foursquare, and the food ain’t great, and the service is worse, you can bet your last dollar that I will have something to say about it. BUT! Social media is such a viral thing; my Foursquare is attached to my Facebook and my Twitter, which means that the majority of my community will see this, and many of them would not go there, all because of a one-time review of the place.
Now take that scenario a step further.
What happens if it was just a bad night for that restaurant? As a consumer, I have posted a bad review, and this would impact the restaurant’s reputation negatively. I’m never going back there for another try, unless someone tells me that they went, and the food and service was five-star. So, this negative review will cause a ripple effect, and no number of positive reviews can sway a viral bad review.
Did you know that 78% of people trust peer recommendations when it comes to buying a product or acquiring a service? Only 14% base their purchases on ads. Now given this information, wouldn’t it be more sensible to deal with the issues submitted through your social networks, rather than lose the business?
Companies have to realize that a good word of mouth on Facebook, Twitter, and other social sites is always good for business. And for them to acquire new customers and retain old ones, they have to spend enough time dealing with complaints on their social sites.
Communicate. Answer questions, attend to issues, respond to comments.
Speak their language. You’re not a robot, and I don’t know why you’d reply with a generic response. Engage them, and relate to them, and you’ll keep them forever.
Train your staff. I cannot stress this more. If the people handling your social media aren’t customer service oriented, it’s time for some training sessions.