Four out of five companies reckon they provide superior customer service to the people who make their business possible – yet only 8% of customers agree with this opinion. In an age when unsatisfied customers are likely to take to social media to let you (and the whole world) know what they think, it has become more important than ever to react swiftly and positively when your mental image of your company’s customer care standards is called into question.
Even if you know how to publicize your company’s products and successes on social media, it doesn’t necessarily translate into adequate social media customer care skills. Customer care via social media requires an element of tact, of personality, and of a tailored individual approach. Each angry client should be dealt with in their own way – but there are several principles to bear in mind while doing so.
For starters, act quickly. Around 43% of customers who complain via Twitter expect you to respond to them directly: and they are not willing to wait around. Twitter is the medium of the moment. Unattended @’s will fester and become angrier. They may be retweeted while you’re sitting on your hands. So get in there well within an hour of any tweeted complaint, and turn that social media yell into a dialogue.
You may be riled by what is said (the customer is always only partly right, right?) but instead of letting your blood boil, try to create a human connection with the person on the other end of the cables. It is one of the big ironies of social media in general that it connects people whilst dehumanizing us into so many avatars and typos. Introduce yourself by name, and use the customer’s name when addressing them. Pay attention to details – try to sympathize with the specifics of their situation.
Try to move the conversation somewhere private as soon as you can. This way you can quickly tell whether you’re dealing with a troll who just wants to kick up a fuss, or a genuine complainant who wants to find a successful resolution to their issue. It also means you can speak openly about private details that the customer (and you) don’t want to share publically.
Once the situation is resolved, try to go public again by re-tweeting or sharing the positive outcome. If the customer has touched on a fundamental issue with your business or a recurring problem, it may be worth blogging about. You can create a culture around your product or service with friendly social media shares that explain how best to make use of what you do.
If you’re having trouble staying on top of your tweets and comments (hopefully there’s a ton of positive ones coming in, too!) you can use a service like Sprout to help you keep track and prioritize. It’s well-worth pre-empting problems as well, by using Sprout or Hootsuite to keep a track of your mentions, even when you’re not being directly addressed. If customers are chatting about you with each other online, it is an excellent opportunity to see what they really think. You can join the conversation if you think there is a positive way to spin it or you can be of help to someone who is struggling with your product.
A great new infographic, made by the people at Headway Capital, outlays these principles and more in a single and easy to read reference document. These are the basics of social media customer care, but it’s amazing how many people in marketing overlook them in pursuance of the perfect selling opportunity or viral idea. Don’t neglect to look after your existing customers – they’re the ones that make your business function!