Engaging with your users and customers on social media is an easy, cost effective way of gaining brand awareness and loyalty. Most companies have already realised this. What is therefore quite an interesting fact is the gap between the ideals and the actual initiatives of companies, when it comes to providing customer service through social media.
A Social Media Today, Pivot and SAP research based on the survey completion of 578 respondents, The Social Customer Engagement Index 2012: Results, Analysis and Perspectives shows that even though 71% of the companies in the research use social media for customer service, a staggering 41% of them handle less than 5% of their customer service issues via social media.
Social customer service?
In a world of online interaction, having a direct dialogue with a brand has more or less become a basic consumer demand. Especially if a brand has taken the step of being on social media. The immense profits of being on social media have dawned on most companies by now – but somehow a vast number of brands still haven’t figured out how to benefit fully from the possibilities that lies within social media. Maybe because they are still a bit timid towards the public aspect of being on social media? Maybe because they just haven’t felt the need to prioritize it yet? Either way, with 1 billion active users on Facebook alone, companies still have a lot to gain from social media.
In the research, it is concluded that the enthusiasm for providing social customer service has grown within the past year. However, the research also concluded that the good intentions of the companies were not aligned with the reality of their social customer service performance:
Out of the 45.2% of respondents who said they had integrated social customer service with their traditional channels of customer service, a huge 38.4% of these companies would answer questions on social media on an ad-hoc basis without any procedures connected to the response flow. On the positive side, 34.4% of the companies would “review social profiles, use knowledge management, and other enterprise data to compose responses”. In 2011, despite the good intentions, 77.6% of the companies in the research invested less than $50,000 in social customer service. Combined with the fact that 17.7 % of the companies respond to more than 25% of the customer service issues via social media, it is however evident that only few companies have found their way to combining traditional customer service with social media while others still need to prioritise social in their customer service budgets.
How to profit through social customer service
If you want to succeed in social customer service and thereby profit from the cost effective paybacks it provides, you need to follow a few simple steps. Studying the report on the research as well as best practice cases within the field of social customer service, a few general ground rules have been identified:
- Create a personal, forthcoming and helpful tone of voice.
- Always respond quickly, efficiently and in the right tone of voice.
- Monitor social channels in order to stay updated on any potential issues your customers are experiencing with your company or products.
- Report, analyse and improve both the response process but also general product or company processes, if a majority of customers continuously experience the same problem. Monitor, report, analyse, escalate!
Some of these steps might seem obvious, but as the research has shown, even the most basic rules of customer service are not always transformed on to social media. Following are examples of how two companies have successfully managed to convert their customer service into social.
Best practice cases
In July 2010, the package delivery company UPS decided to use Twitter as channel of social customer service. They had discovered that “customer service” was the most debated topic amongst their customers and UPS needed to join the dialogue on social media. By providing quick, personal and efficient customer service via Twitter, the positive customers’ stories spread fast and far, helping to create a stronger brand image as well as being one of the best examples of great social customer service within a short period of time.
Another recent example of excellent, personal and relatable social customer service is the cool slang based responses from O2‘s tweeting customer service:
What brands with a strong social customer service profile have realised is that even bad customer experiences posted on social media channels can turn into a positive, profitable customer experience, if handled with care and the proper attention from the customer service team. An angry customer’s outburst can mean the opportunity of showing how much you care about your customers by providing a great, quick and personal service. When turning the angry customer into a happy customer on social media, you can be certain that the story will spread, hence leading to a potentially heightened brand image. So, there is not really any excuse for NOT providing your customers with the service they demand – on the media they prefer.
Is your company ready to fully commit to social customer service?