These tips can help you grow a community that will support your brand and may even come to your rescue.
Today, one of the greatest challenges facing your contact center is managing the flow of customer service inquiries over social-media channels such as Facebook, Twitter and various consumer blogs. The social customer is also more demanding: 71% desire faster customer service and 33% claim that their complaints are ignored over social, according to Accenture’s research “Customer-as-a-service.”
When implementing a customer service engagement strategy via social media, remember two things: Be patient and be realistic. Also, you may want to ask yourself: Is the social customer different than other customers, and should they be treated differently because they are on a social channel? Here are some things to keep in mind as you begin mapping your social journey.
1. A complaint via social media is most likely an escalation.
Most customers do not start on social media, but usually through more conventional channels. When dissatisfied, they turn to social media to amplify their voice. As a majority of complaints are escalations, you may want to make sure that the team handling these sites is trained to resolve intensified complaints.
2. It’s important to learn the difference between a customer who is talking about your brand versus talking to your brand.
The conversation is going to happen with or without you, and you do not have to participate in every conversation—but you will need to decide how and when you want to be involved. Will you listen and engage, or just listen? Decide if and how you want to be a part of the conversation.
3. You need to determine who will manage this process.
Will it be the marketing team or your consumer affairs team? Can these two entities work together? Is it important for your company that you are speaking with the brand voice and tone? Once you have a team in place, you are now ready to listen and engage. Or … are you? The key—first and foremost—is to know your customer in mapping your social journey,
4. Plan for which social-media channels you will listen and respond to.
There are so many listening posts: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat, consumer blogs and many more. You may want to consider utilizing a company that can screen-scrape and send you alerts based on sentiment or keywords. These will let you know that there is a conversation happening around a certain product or event that pertains to your company.
5. Consider outsourcing help.
A tweet’s shelf life on Twitter is very short, so your SLAs for social-media need to have a quick turnaround time. If you are not monitoring 24/7, outsourcing your process may be an option. Or you may want to split the time with an outsourcer, and just utilize this service during your non-business hours.
If you outsource any part of this channel, think of how the work will be split and what guardrails will be put into place to prevent things from falling through the cracks. Remember, you can still pick and choose your battles. Often, using social media is a way for the consumer to let their followers know that they had a bad experience. Their intent is to not engage, but rather bash.
Now you’re ready to engage with the customer!
6. Choose the right tools.
There are tools out there which can help you manage your engagement on several sites using a consistent dashboard. Remember that all tools continue to evolve with the changes in the social landscape.
7. Keep in mind that social media happens in real time.
This reality fosters emotional reactions from customers, as they, too, are in the moment. Prepare your team to be able to react to and handle those types of situations.
You want to be proactive in your communications, but keep in mind that there is always more risk for brand damage in social media, as it is essentially a one-to-many conversation. We have found that bringing disputes or complaints offline is better, as public debates with customers are unseemly.
If there is a satisfactory outcome, encourage the consumer to go back to the social-media site and let their followers know how the issue was handled. If it was handled poorly, they will certainly shout that, without any prompting.
As the social-media space matures, it may eventually take over the more traditional channels of phone calls, emails and even chat. Begin to think about how you can grow a community that will support your brand, and in time, may even come to your rescue without you even having to be involved.